tv U.S. Senate CSPAN March 19, 2013 12:00pm-5:00pm EDT
the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: madam president, may i ask the pending quorum call be lifted? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: and may i ask unanimous consent to speak for up to 15 minutes as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you very
much, madam president. i am here once again to sound an alarm about carbon pollution's damage to our oceans and to our climate. it is past time for congress to wake up to our responsibility as elected officials and as stewards of this planet. the alarm has been sounded by the scientific community which overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly warns about the effects of our carbon dioxide emissions on our atmosphere and oceans. our defense and intelligence communities warn of the threats posed by climate change to national security and international stability. economists recognize the distortion of energy markets that overlook the true cost of
carbon pollution, and government accountants now list climate change as a threat to our fiscal stability. now, today, as we enter the passover and easter season and as catholics the world over celebrate the selection of a new pope, we turn to voices of faith. they, too, call upon us. they call upon us to heed the moral imperatives of protecting creation and seeking justice for all people. they call upon us to reflect on our faith, on our relationship to our world and each other and on our responsibility to future generations. and they call upon us as president obama reminded us in his inaugural address to preserve our planet commanded to our care by god.
i lay no claim to religious authority, but i must believe this -- something that harms others, something that disturbs god's creation, something that stands on lies and greed, protecting that must not be consistent with god's will. in his 2010 world day of peace message entitled "if you want to cultivate peace, protect creation," pope benedict xvi called upon the faithful, and i quote -- "to protect the environment and to safeguard natural resources and the climate, while at the same time taking into due account the solidarity we owe to those living in the poorer areas of our world and to future
generations." in his inaugural mass this morning, pope francis said, and i quote -- "please, i would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life and all men and women of goodwill, let us be protectors of creation, protectors of god's plannen scribed in nature -- plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. as early news reports indicated, the new pope chose his papal name, francis, out of respect for st. francis' sense of obligation to god's creation, and he noted in one of his very
earliest comments that our relationship with god's creation is not so good right now. and of course, the pope is not the only one. ecumenical patriot remark bartholomew 1 of constantinople, the spiritual leader of orthodox christians, urges us to remember those most affected by climate change. climate change is much more than an issue of environmental preservation, the patriot remark says. climate change constitutes a matter of social and economic justice. here in the united states, hundreds of evangelical leaders signed the evangelical climate endangered species tiff statement which declares love of god, love of neighbor and the demands of stewardship are more than enough reason for
evangelical christians to respond to the climate change problem, with moral passion and concrete action. the hindu declaration on climate change affirms that -- quote -- "the dire problems besetting our world will all be magnified many fold by the predicted impacts of climate change. and buddhist leaders, including the diallo alamb a, urge both individual and unusual transformation to confront what they call the gravest challenge that humanity has ever faced, the ecological consequences of our own collective karma. as reverend fletcher harper of the interfaith coalition green faith explains, all faith-based communities have a spiritual connection to the natural world. for example, sheikh ali gomah,
the internationally respected egyptian islamist, sees this connection as central to a faithful life. i will read -- "if we take seriously our role as god's deputies on earth, not just by benefiting from the environment but by preserving it and ensuring that other communities and generations will have the same possibilities to drink clean water, breathe fresh air and live in a world that is in harmony with itself and with ourselves, we may hope to be among those who are beloved to god due to their care for his creation. for many, madam president, faith compels work toward fairness and justice for all living beings, regardless of nationality or social status and encourages us to consider the effects of our actions on future generations.
for many individuals all over the world, the fight against climate change is a moral call. as americans, we have a tradition of calling upon our own deeply held spiritual convictions to address our society's greatest moral challenges. people of faith are answering that call from major denominational governing bodies down to local parishes and synagogues. representative henry waxman and i, as part of our work on the bicameral task force on climate change, recently wrote to 300 groups to ask for their views on actions the federal government could take to reduce carbon pollution and strengthen our resiliency to climate change. a number of those organizations which answered are religious
organizations, and i ask unanimous consent to submit letters from six of these groups to the congressional record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you very much, madam president. the coalition on the environment and jewish life and the jewish council for public affairs wrote to us that -- quote -- "the need to transform the world's energy economy while addressing global climate change is not only a religious and moral imperative, it is a strategy for security and survival. the united states conference of catholic bishops says that -- and i quote -- "at its core, global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures. it is about the future of god's creation and one human family."
the bishops asked congress to consider seven principles in shaping responsible climate change policies. one, addressing global climate change means protecting the common good. two, climate change will hit the most vulnerable communities the hardest. three, we must seek solutions that enhance rather than diminish the economic standing of the poor. four, new resources must be made available to poor communities to adapt to the effects of a changing climate. five, we must protect vulnerable people from the negative human health effects of climate change. six, local affected communities should have a voice in shaping the response to climate change. and, seven, technological solutions to reduce carbon
emissions and adapt to a changing climate must be made available to the people of developing nations. that is from the united states conference of catholic bishops. we heard from the quaker friends committee on national legislation. they wrote that climate change -- quote -- "is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced." the evangelical environment network urges immediate bipartisan action, saying -- and i quote -- "the simple truth is, those opposed to climate action have done a good job of having climate change viewed as a political issue, even a partisan one. we firmly believe that the need to act to overcome climate change is a moral issue, that it should be viewed morally rather than in a partisan fashion."
the national council of the churches of christ, representing 37 christian denominations, calls for a national policy that -- and i quote -- "lifts up justice, stewardship, sustainability, and sufficiency as guiding tenets." interfaith power and light, a national faith-based campaign against global warming, tells us that its 40 state affiliates and thousands of congregations view a swift and equitable transition to a clean energy economy as our moral responsibility and are prepared to support the task force's efforts every step of the way. these religious leaders and groups are, unlike congress, not sleepwalking through history. faith groups throughout america are acting on their sense of
spirit, justice, and stewardship and are mobilizing locally to combat and prepare for the effects of climate change. in my home state, rhode island interfaith power and light provides free energy audits, training workshops, and on-line information about implementing and maintaining energy efficiency programs for houses of worship. the jewish alliance of greater rhode island's community relations council is working to reduce the carbon footprint of rhode island synagogues by 14% by next year. in east providence, rhode island, the newman congregational church made some simple changes, like installing occupancy censors and better lighting, and experienced a 25% reduction in electricity costs. last year, the benefice not
congregational united church in providence undertook an ecumenical lenton carbon fast. this spring from easter to pent cost, the congregation will be taking part in the united church of christ's national campaign of volunteering and environmental advocacy. madam president, these urgent calls from religious leaders of so many faiths and these conscientious actions by individual houses of worship demonstrate the powerful connection men and women of faith feel to the wonders of creation and to our fellow humankind. for some, this connection derives from a connection to a higher power. for others, it is hope for future generations or a commitment to justice for all living things. i once heard a colleague here in congress brush off the warnings of science about climate change,
saying, "god's still up there," implying that there's no need to worry about climate change. well, if god is still up there, what better use of the gifts of moral reasoning that we have been given as his people than to protect his creation and one another from harm? madam president, as we sing in the old hymn, "field and forest, veil and mountain, flowering meadow, flashing sea, chanting bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in thee." we are each called in our own way to wake up and to do the
right thing. i yield the floor. mr. nelson: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: madam president, i just want to comment on the senator from rhode island's comments. first of all, i know it's so heartfelt and so genuine, and i want to thank him for that. and i want to thank him from approaching it from a faith-based standpoint about this fragile ecosystem that we live on called planet earth. and he's brought a perspective with that chart that he had of the earth that it is so beautiful and yet it looks so fragile. as a matter of fact, when you look at the rim of the earth from the perspective in space,
you see a thin film and you realize that that's what sustains all of life, which is the atmosphere. and even with the naked eye from space, you can see how we're messing it up. i could see coming across braz brazil, i could see the color differentiation where they were destroying the amazon and then could look to the east at the mouth of the amazon and see the effects of the extra silt that discolored the waters of the atlantic for hundreds of miles. and so the senator brings a great perspective and i thank him for it. and, madam president, i yield the floor. mr. whitehouse: if i may respond by thanking the senator from florida for his -- the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: -- for his kind remarks. is he the only member of this
body, now or ever, to have seen that view of our planet from the space capsule that he looked down on earth from. he has spoken with enormous eloquence and passion about what that experience meant to him, both on the floor and to us in our caucus, and i'm very grateful for his kind remarks. i yield the floor. ms. mikulski: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: madam president, i want to say that first of all we've had three astronauts -- three astronaut senators. we had senator bill nelson, who just spoke so eloquently about the planet and the way he saw it. our own very beloved and hero with the right stuff, senator john glenn. and also senator jake garn, our wonderful colleague who retired many years ago, but was also on the v.a.-h.u.d. committee.
and when i first came to the senate, it was senator garn who really along -- was really one of the members of the other side of the aisle that really helped me learn the senate and really gave me a tremendous introduction to the space program. in fact, we went in a bipartisan way to every space facility on this country -- in this country so we could learn what were the great assets we had, how we needed to fund them, and what was the future of the american space program. so we've had three senators who were certified astronauts and actually went into space. we've had other senators that have been in orbit. some maybe still are out there somewhere. [laughter] but i say to my two colleagues, with my -- with my feet firmly on the ground, we want to really thank them for what they're
doing really to save the planet. because of the advocacy talked about by the senator from rhode island and the senator from florida, we really in the commerce-justice-science bill, which i fund, which funds not only the american space program but also funds the national science foundation, we need to understand our great planet. and another great astronaut, sally ride, a very happy and blessed memory who passed away last year, was asked by nasa to do a strategic plan and what should nasa be looking at. should we be going to mars? dare we go even further, venus? what about -- should we do it with human beings, should we do it with robots? but dr. ride came back with many suggestions but one of which was she said that we should study the planet earth as if it were a
planet in our solar system. she said there was a great belief that there was even intelligent life on planet earth and we'll continue to search for it from time to time here. now, i'm -- but really, dr. ride encouraged us to really look at our own planet. and our own planet, as if those from outside of our solar system, were looking at us. because she said that what every astronaut feels -- and i've talked to many along with senators nelson, glenn and gar garn -- is that when they go up and see the majestic universe that god has created, their greatest thrill is to look back on the planet earth and how touching and how moving it is and how we want to protect it. and we need to protect it because there is life on this planet. there's the life of human beings and there's the life of the
bounty that god has given us in both the sea and on the land in agriculture or in others that help take care of us and we're now called to take care of them. and i pledge to them, if we can work together on a bipartisan basis, it's really not about global warming, it's about saving the planet. we need to look at all of our science across all of the subcommittees and say, what are the best practices that now ishz nourishes us and nourishes our planet and nourishes the way that we would like to continue to proceed in the 21st century. i believe science and technology leads the way. it is a great gift given to us, the gift of reason and the gift of discovery. so let's all work together. and i want to thank you for what you've said. madam president, we are now moving towards a few minutes before we're going to recess for
the luncheon hour. i want to just comment briefly that today is -- to say that for those of us of the roman catholic faith, this is indeed a great day. we now have a pope who has been formally invested as the leader of -- of our church. pope francis. and we know that there were many members of the senate that would have liked to have gone to that investiture but duty called and we're here bringing to close our debate on the continued funding resolution, to make sure we're funded through fiscal 2013 in an orderly, agreed-upon way, and move to our big budget debate. but pope francis is calling us today, as he has in other sermons, to think about the poor, the elderly, the children,
and the vulnerable in our society as well as the very planet. so we say to his holiness, we really wish him well, we really wish him well and the ministry that i -- we believe he will provide to the world. but we should also take heed to this message about -- about the children, about the elderly, and about those that are really vulnerable populations. and, again, we think that what we have in here, our step is really an appropriations that will guarantee funding through fiscal 2013. i don't want to link it to his holiness's message. we wish him well. but i also wish now we could do what we could in these closing hours. we've been guaranteed 30 hours of debate. we've used probably about five. that we look at how we can bring this debate to close in an agreed-upon way on both sides of the aisle so that we can then
move on to the budget debate for fiscal 2014. oh, i'm sorry, i did not note that the senator from kansas was here. before i -- i will not recess until the gentleman has a chance to speak. mr. moran: snad. the presiding officer moran: mae senator from kansas. mr. moran: madam president, thank you to the gentlewoman and chairman. i spoke on an amendment last night that i continue to ask to be made in order on this continuing resolution. as i indicated last night, we're going to spend in excess of $1 trillion in this bill and i'm hoping that perhaps my amendments and perhaps others can be made in order yet during this postcloture 30-hour period of time. one of the concerns that's been raised is whether or not if my amendment was adopted, whether this would create difficulties in the house of representatives for the final passage of the continuing resolution, and i'm pleased to be on the floor, particularly with the chairwoman being here, the gentlewoman from
maryland, to indicate that i now have indications from the speaker's office that they would have no objection to the amendment that i'm -- that i continue to offer, that i hope will be made in order, that i hope a vote will be taken on related to the air traffic control towers. also in the period of time since i last spoke, we have numerous members of the senate who have now joined as cosponsors of this amendment. the number is now 14 democrats and 12 republicans. the number continues to grow. and i've had a number of conversations with particularly democrat members of the united states senate who indicate to me, why can't your amendment be made in order. and so i'm hoping, as members of the democrat caucus and the republican conference meet during this 12:30 lunch period, that perhaps there's still an opportunity for this issue to be resolved. and i would indicate once again that while i listened to the suggestion of the majority leader this morning that we move to the budget during this 30-hour postcloture time frame,
that in the absence of some agreement related to this amendment, i will object to moving to the budget until the 30 hour expire. i've also indicated publicly that i will object to the next 30 hour -- the next opportunity in which a unanimous consent is requested as we get back to the base bill. it's not my nature to be an obstructionist. this is an amendment that matters greatly. it has been determined by the parliamentarian to be germane and, in my view, ought to be made in order, just as the chairwoman talked about bipartisan efforts. this is one that clearly is bipartisan and apparently bicameral. and so i'm hoping to utilize the rights as a member of the united states senate to see that there still is an opportunity for this amendment to be considered. and i would say that the reason this matters so much in this time frame is that i'm of the view -- and i think it's shared by many -- that in the absence of this amendment being adopted, included in this continuing
resolution and the continuing resolution being passed, that the control towers will be eliminated on april the 7th and there will be little, if no, opportunity for the appropriations committee then to restore funding to, in a sense, a program that no longer exists. many of the topics that i share with my colleagues here about the -- the consequences of sequestration and am willing to work with them to see that we move money from one place to another to solve that problem, in the absence of that happeni happening, there's still an opportunity for the appropriations committee and ultimately the congress in the appropriations process to solve those problems. but should the april 7 come, the 179-plus contract towers are eliminated, then it seems highly unlikely to me that any appropriation process would include money for a program that's no longer in existence. i yield the floor. ms. mikulski: madam president?
the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: madam president, i appreciate the senator from kansas' tenacity and persistence and being an advocate for his constituents, and i would hope that during this noon hour -- i'm not -- i can give no promises. there is leadership considerations on both sides of the aisle. but we have to acknowledge the senator from kansas is a real fighter for what he believes in and i think we admire that. how that gets translated, i think this will be subject to further discussions during this noon hour. i, therefore, ask unanimous consent that we recess the senate until 2:15 for the respective party conferences to discuss important issues. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands in recess until 2:15 p.m.
senators yesterday afreed top.m. cut off debate on the senators version of the blue paint. up next is the fiscal blueprint for 2014. before senators start a two week spring recess. in terms of a timeline for the senate budget activities "the hill" say senate democrats will force a final vote on 2014 budget before leaving for the easter recess by the end the week. given time constraints on a six-month resolution to fund the government this could mean a rare vote on saturday on the senate floor. there will be no talk of having a budget majority leader reid said today. we will have one before we
leave for recess. live coverage of the senate when the members return at 2:15 eastern on c-span2. coming up on c-span3 the head of immigration and customs enforcement testifies before a house committee about the recent release of more than 2,000 illegal immigrants from detention centers. last week john morton said the releases were done for budgetary reasons. immigration enforcement and most other federal agencies are trimming their budgets as called for by the sequestration law that went into effect early this month. see the house hearing life 1:00 p.m. hearn on c-span3. fourth four years ago today we began to providing televised access to the congress and federal government. c-span networks created by america's cable companies in 1979 and brought to you as a public service by your television provider. >> president obama leaves
this evening for a three-country visit to the middle east it is his first trip to israel as u.s. president. he will arrive wednesday and meet with israeli president perez in jerusalem and in the afternoon with prime minister netanyahu. thursday president obama will go to the west bank where he will meet with palestinian authority president abbas. he will return to jerusalem for a speech on thursday night and friday the president will visit jordan. he will meet with king abdullah. he has a number of speeches and planned visits along the way. president obama will return to washington on saturday. yesterday, two former middle east advisors to the white house talked about the potential implications of president obama's trip. the speakers were dennis ross, who served under president obama and mining call singh, who advised president george w. bush. this was hosted by the washington institute. it is about 90 minutes. >> good afternoon. good afternoon and welcome to the washington institute. i'm rob satlof, the director of the institute.
i'm happy to welcome all of you here today. just at the outset if i could please remind you, cell phones off please, not just on, on vibrate but off completely. this event is being live streamed for our thousands of fans around the world. this event is being broadcast by c-span. so everything you say can and will be used against you. so but bless do turn your cell phones off. we're fathered here today because president obama is off for the inaugural overseas visit of his second term and he is going to the middle east, going to israel, to the west bank and to jordan. his itinerary is very different than the itinerary of his middle east trip in the beginning of his first term. we'll hear more about that. and i think the mission of this trip is very different than the mission of that inaugural trip of his first
term. we're going to hear about that. there's much to talk about because the middle east agenda is deep and broad and despite all the popular talk about tilting to asia, it is a region that will attract us whether or not we decide to focus on it. and to help the administration navigate through the turbulent waters of the middle east, the washington institute is publishing the last of its transition papers, strategic reports, prepared just for the beginning of this new administration. when you depart, you can pick up the presi to our last strategic report titled, obama ii and the middle east. strategic objectives for u.s. policy, jointly authored by two of the foremost thinkers about middle east policy and we're very proud that both of them
are here at the washington institute. ambassador dennis ross and ambassador james jeffrey. ambassador ross of course we're about to hear from dennis, served throughout most of the first term, first in the state department and then in the white house with responsibility for overseeing all the national security council work in the middle east. ambassador jeffrey, jim jeffrey, completed his distinguished service in the diplomatic corps last year after having served in, as ambassador in turkey and in iraq. previously in an incarnation in albania and as the deputy national security advisor in the bush administration which he played a special role in addressing the iraq question. so we brought these two highly-experienced, strategic thinkers and policy practitioners together to produce a policy
paper for the obama administration and we urge all of you to pick up the synopsys of that paper on the way out and it will be available for you on the web very shortly, this week as the president takes off for his trip abroad. and to discuss the thinking behind the trip to the middle east, what mead earns are -- middle east are expecting to hear from the president what the broad range for the middle east, we have this distinguished panel of institute experts. first we're going to hear from ambassador ross, from dennis, who will provide the context, the thinking behind, behind the visit, what the visit might accomplish and how the visit may differ from president obama's first trip abroad in 2009. then we'll turn to david ma
chrous can i. david is just off the plane from israel, where we met with senior israelis, senior palestinians, just as the new government was being formed in israel. there is no truth to the rumor that david brokered the final, the final agreement that brought this new government into being. it is not true at all. and we deny it heartily. but david brings fresh insight from his trip abroad. and then our third speaker will be mike singh, managing director and former senior director on the national security council in the bush administration with responsibility for the middle east and mike brings perspective not just from his planning for president bush's trip to israel but also an overall view about where this visit fits in addressing or perhaps not addressing key challenges on
america's middle east agenda. lots of, lots of important insight. i'm going to turn the podium directly over to dennis. we'll hear from our three speakers. then we'll open it up for your questions and your comments. dennis. >> thanks, rob. i know you're all here because you want actually not to hear about the middle east but you want to hear about how i'm approaching bracketology these days with the ncaas. anybody who would really like to know who is going to win, you will have to ask me later. what i thought i would do is provide a kind of a frame analysticly for this visit by the president to the region. i think the way to do it is to start by saying the context for this trip is dramaticly different from the context that shaped the president's first trip to the middle east in june of 2009. at that time, i think that
the mindset was based upon giving a speech, shaped around a set of assumptions that really grew out of things that the president had said during the campaign. he had announced that he was going to take a trip to the middle east. or at least he announced he was going to give a speech in a muslim-majority country and i think what was guiding that was a set of perception that at least were believed to be held in large parts of muslim-majority countries. there was a perception i think that was wrong but an no the less existed that somehow the bush administration had been engaged in a war on islam and there was a feeling if we didn't address that, that would be a continuing source of recruitment for terror against the united states and it was important to reach out somehow to muslim-majority countries and this was going to shape the purpose of the speech in cairo in 2009 and the trip itself. i think there was another perception that again there was a perceived need to address which was that
somehow the u.s. in the preceding terms of the bush administration had been very much focused on trying to impose an order on the middle east, had been preaching to the middle east and president obama was towing going to go out and part of the outreach would be a design again to change the image. that we were prepared to accept other approaches. we might have our own values. we would talk about our own values but we understood this could not be a case of us hectoring or lecturing or preaching. again part of an outreach towards muslim-majority countries was very much the impetus what was going to be the trip. when you think of about the middle east four years ago and you think about where we are right now that middle east, the president was going to egypt and it was mubarak's egypt. well the egypt of today not clear whose egypt is really is. the muslim brotherhood is in control but they're facing
what can only be described as enormous instabilities and that in many ways is kind of a microcosm for what you're seeing across the region as a whole. if in 2009 the president wasn't going there to sort of preach or dictate what the, what the future should be, though there should be a set of values that he did outline that he thought should be, that would continue to guide us, there's a different reality today. the different reality today we have a middle east that is in turmoil. we have a middle east characterized by upheaval. we have a middle east characterized by unknowns. anybody who tellses you today they know what things will look like in the middle east a year from now or a couple years from now is kidding themselves or kidding you. the fact of the matter is this is a region that is undergoing a transformation and we're in chapter one of that transformation and maybe there's 20 chapters to be written. so the context in which the president goes out is dramatically different and
as rob was saying unlike in 2009 he is not going to a country that he went to then. he went to saudi arabia before he went to cairo. in this case he's going to, he's going to be seeing the israelis the palestinians and the jordanians and the focus is clearly very different. at least in part, at least one major element of this trip is designed to reach out to the israeli public. now again, there is an interesting irony here because the effort to reach out in 2009 was perceived by israelis as somehow coming at their expense. again that may not have been the intent but that certainly was the perception within israel. and it created an irony. it created an irony that the administration was about trying to reach out to basically the rest of the middle east and it was going to come at israel's expense and the irony this is an administration that ended up committing itself in a very
dramatic, systemic way, in very intense way to focusing on the development of security cooperation with the israelis, and intense dialogue across the board on all national security kinds of questions, a kind of collaboration with the israelis on a whole range of intelligence, military and security questions. and so the irony is that on the one hand there's a perception from israeli public that the administration is not particularly sensitive to israeli needs and on the other there is a relationship, a dialogue, a level of cooperation that actually exceeds anything that's taken place before. and this trip in many ways is designed i think to sort of blend the reality of what the cooperation has been with the perceptions within israel. and that leads me to sort of a broad second point. there will be a public dimension to the trip in israel and a private dimension it the trip in israel and that's going to
be true for what the president does with the palestinians, with mahmoud abbas, it will be true with what he does in jordan as well. let me say a couple words what i think both the public dimension and the private dimension of the trip are very much likely to be. again if part of the point of connecting with the israeli public is what's guiding the logic of the trip at least as it relates to israel then much of what the president's going to be doing both in terms of what he just its and in terms of what he says is going to be designed to reach out to the israelies in a way that is geared towards dealing with israeli concerns. demonstrating the nature of the relationship, creating the kind of emotional connections, highlighting the durability of the relationship not only from the past but also in the future, reassuring the israeli public that there is understanding and of the circumstance and context israel now lives in and all the uncertainties the israelis now face and the
purpose in no small part is not just to build a connection but to demonstrate that when the president's says he has israel's back that then has kind of a creditability with the israeli public. that then creates a certain meaning a certain consequence. when the president talks about his approach towards iran, it's no longer going to be an abstraction for the israeli public. they will have a feeling, all right, the president is quite serious about that and that creates some greater space for the president pursuing what i think the policy that he wants to, that he is continuing to pursue visa v. the iranians. i think it is also relvan to the palestinians. what i certainly think is part of the motivation, to create a context when the united states raises an issue or asking for something the israeli public can look at that in the context of saying, all right, the president's doing this because he sees this as somehow responding to an israeli need and so i think here again what you see is
an effort to create space for some of the policies we're likely to pursue. now that's the public dimension as it relates to israel. what about the private dimension? i think the private dimension is going to be a very serious set of discussions across the board on the issues that are of concern to both of us. here again i would sort of remind you it is always useful to take a step back. with all the concerns about what's the character of the relationship and how do the president and the prime minister get along, i think it is highly useful to remember, when you look at iran, our strategic objective and the israeli strategic objective is the same. it is prevention of an iran with nuclear weapons. when you look at syria, the strategic objective of the united states and the strategic object i have it of the israelis again, very much the same. i don't think either one of us wants to see syria disintegrate or collapse. neither one of us wants to see chemical weapons in the hands of jihadis. certainly last thing the
israelis want to see are jihadis on their border. the fact the strategic objectives and strategic concerns are the same and likely to lend themselves with discussions what do you do in different sets of contingencies? when you look at the arab awakening and what is going on in egypt, the strategic concerns and objectives are very much the same. the palestinians there is very similar strategic objective. neither one of us wants to see the collapse of the palestinian authority. collapse of the palestinian authority creates a void. anybody who thinks it will be filled by forces that are going to be particularly of interest to the israelis or us i think is kidding themselves. here again you have a very rich agenda for what should be a discussion between the two on these array of issues, taking account of what are the points of strategic convergence. now obviously, under the rubric of strategic convergence there can be tactical differences.
on the question of iran there is no doubt there will be a very serious discussion between the president and the prime minister. there has been very high level dialogues on intensive basis that have been conducted with the most senior people around the president and the prime minister. but there's no substitute for what they can do directly and how they will discuss this issue. and it's not new that each of us have, may have, as i said, a strategic orientation. the israeli concern all along has been, how much time is going to be devoted to diplomacy if the diplomacy isn't going to succeed? and is this diplomacy going to stretch beyond the point where israel could lose its military option when dealing with what is an existential threat? i don't anticipate in private you will have a discussion that somehow the prime minister tries to pin down the president on if diplomacy fails when exactly are you going to act? i think he's not going to have that kind of discussion because he is not really going to want get a question from the president to pin him down what commitments he
is prepared to make in a very specific sense. i think what you will have is conversation that focuses much more on where the iranian program is, and what's the meaning of prevention. when you have an objective of preventing iran from having nuclear weapons what's the point at which prevention could lose its meaning? and i can envision a kind of a conversation between the two that focuses on the full array of the iranian nuclear capabilities. when the prime minister laid out his red line when he went to new york he focused on one very narrow aspect of the iranian nuclear program and that was the accumulation of medium enriched-uranium. he identified one bomb's worth being a red line. it is rather interesting i think that the one thing that the iranians have really slowed down on is the accumulation of their medium enriched-uranium. in fact you see them oxidizing it so in fact rather than aaccumulating more, while they are
aaccumulating they are aaccumulating in much slower pace. in an interesting way it kind of signals that the iranians do recognize certain thresholds that might trigger military action. so there they sort of have moved much more slowly. they're not moving slowly on anything else. they continue to enrich at a lower level and now they're introducing the next generation of centrifuges. by the way these are centrifuges they worked on for the last decade and now if they're actually able not simply to install them but have them operate they increase by three to four times the efficiency of their enrichment rates. so i can envision a discussion on, all right, the red line of medium enriched-uranium that the prime minister put out there is one measure but it's a very incomplete measure. so what's the totality of capabilitis? how much enriched-uranium? how many centrifuges? both of one type and the next generation type? what combination of these gets you to the point where you we could actually lose
confidence in knowing that in fact we could prevent the iranians before they could actually present a fait accompli to the world? i can envision that kind of a discussion. i can also envision on the palestinians a discussion that says, all right, we both share the objective of insuring that the palestinian authority doesn't collapse. what is it that you do to make that less likely? and given everything else that is going on in the region, the one thing you don't want, given all the other uncertainties is to have a void now in the west bank as well. so what is it that should be done? i have no doubt that when the president says he is not going out there with a peace plan i'm quite certain he is not going out there with a peace plan but i suspect he is going out there to sort of ask the prime minister, given this context what do you think you can do? what do you think makes sense to be doing in terms of an objective of insuring the palestinian authority doesn't collapse and insuring that in fact this is an issue that doesn't become worse for you and basically for us as well? so that i would say is
basically how i envision things pogue in israel. what about the public and private dimensions on the rest of the trip? i think with the palestinians the public dimension is to demonstrate that the president cares about it. i mean there were all these stories that were being written about, well, you know, the president in the second term this is not an issue he will put much emphasis. rob was saying all right, we saw all the focus on the pivot to asia. well we have a pivot to asia yet the very first trip the president is taking is to the middle east. which suggests you can have a focus on asia but there's a recognition that when you don't pay attention to the middle east the middle east has a way of imposing itself on you. i think this trip at least from the palestinian standpoint at least a signal the president hasn't lost interest in the issue of trying to promote peace but there is a question what is the best way to do it. i suspect when he reaches out in public to sort of emphasize the importance of trying to do something, he
will have a, a private conversation as well that, i think with, with abu mazen is very much geared, all right, what is it that can be done from your standpoint? i think also he is bound to have a conversation with him that says, you know if you want to continue to go down the u.n. road, if you want to continue to go down the route of moving on the international organizations that's not a road that's going to lead anywhere. let's focus on a road that has the potential to lead somewhere. you know i didn't mention on the israeli side, i said there was a convergence on syria but there will certainly be a private discussion on syria and israel. there will be a private discussion with abu mazen on syria as well. you have 400,000 palestinians who are in syria and who are in a very vulnerable position and it's hard to imagine even if that is not much of a public dimension for the conversation it is hard to imagine that will not be part of the private conversation. sure there will be a focus on the peace issue but there
will also be a focus on this and what if anything we in the international community could be doing to somehow safeguard those palestinians who are there. i would say with jordan you're also going to have a public and private dimension. first of all just being there sends a signal of interest which i think is important but here the private dimension i think has to focus as much as anything on syria. you have 400,000 syrian refugees in jordan today. 100,000 additional since the beginning of this year. if the pace continues you could have something like 700,000 by june. the impact on jordan, its ability to absorb this, is actually very hard to contemplate. and i think, here again, you're going to have, even if this trip wasn't going to be about syria the fact is every private meeting will end up having a pretty serious discussion about what next. i think by the way that's not a bad thing because it's very clear that the administration at this point if you looked at senator
kerry's trip every day on that trip you saw him in a sense evolving in terms what we might be doing on syria. i suspect the administration is taking a hard look at, and a fresh look what can be done. and i suspect this trip is going to very much add to that. why don't i pause there. >> very good, thank you. david. >> thank you everyone. good to see everyone. good to be on the panel with my colleagues. i just came back yesterday. i must say i'm, well, dennis and i often have our own convergences. i might be a little less upbeat having returned from there. it could be a question how these things are put forward but i agree with him definitely on the public piece. i mean i can not see obama but succeed on the public part of the trip because it's really two trips in one at least to israel. the public part, it is
israel you would be hard-pressed to find a ford minivan's worth of israelis that who are anti-american. they want to like an american president. whatever their differences have been with obama and they have been recorded in polls, for the most part every stop along the visit is designed, is very well choreographed to touch deeper chords in israeli society whether a visit to the shrine of book, talking about historical attachment of land or the stop at hertzel's tomb or talking to israeli kids about the future of the 21st century these are things obama will do very well at and i think this trip is already, i would be surprised if it isn't a success. there will be hiccups. why didn't he talk to the knesset. why weren't the students from ariel invited along with other college students? there will be some hiccups but i think the public part will be successful to the extent i can. the way i see it obama doing the outreach, some say oh, he wants just to check a
box. i think he sees the way towards magging the relationship with the israeli government runs through the israeli public. it doesn't mean that, it was completely poll focused on everything but, he wasn't allowed to leave. he was on limited poll -- apology to turkey. this should be a gut, gut issue for netanyahu. this is not just looking at public opinion but certainly having public opinion more on his side even if not a dramatic sea change could only help the president as he relates to the new government. so i would say that's the first part. there i think, dennis i agree. i think the policy summit, these guys will probably have something like 4 1/2, five hours together. probably the most intense conversation of time that netanyahu and obama have ever spent together. obama said there is no leader he sat with more than netanyahu but i think this is the most intense period of time that they have sat. each one has got, there are
some sober expectations. they have been at this four years already. obama knows that netanyahu maybe doesn't have yitsahk rabin's political vision. and netanyahu knows obama is interventionist like john mccain. each one comes to the meeting with more sober expectations. that could be a good thing i think but i would say that from the israel side, my sense is, here i thought i would lay out how i saw that conversation and then lay out some of the other key points, syria, lebanon and of course the palestinian issue. on the iran issue, i think it is clear that the netanyahu people go in believing, what does khomeni take away when they hear certain weaponry due to sequester has been moved off the gulf? or that diplomacy has been, in their view, indecisive how do they relate to that?
and so there is the red line that dennis mentioned and the iaea report, you know, that israelis said look there was 180 kilograms of 20% uranium. now they are down to 168. he will say, netanyahu is vindicated. red lines work. i told you so, mr. president. netanyahu, obama will say maybe we have more time. if obama is diverting that means we're not on the brink. but netanyahu will probably come back with the p-2 centrifuges as dennis pointed out they could easily surge forward to 230, 240 kilograms they need for 90% uranium within a 30 or 40-day dash. so i think that ironically they will spark. politely no one is looking for confrontation. they could ask pointed questions in a very cordial atmosphere about that. that each one will like at the iaea report and read into it what they want to
read into it. netanyahu, red lines work. obama, maybe we have more time. i think the second issue is the concern israel has over kazakhstan diplomacy, p5+1. the last round was in sass sack stan. i think here -- kazakhstan. united states is heading to a deal that israelis may consider a bad deals. i may say the israelies have no choice but to take it. that is the best deal they will get and 20% deal on uranium. after all, mr. prime minister, didn't you literally draw the line in the u.n. at 20%? he will say, yeah i drew that that was, i didn't mean to say anything under 20% was kosher. and netanyahu's fear you've got iran on the ropes. you've got them in the corner. this is unprecedented the amount of international sanctions put together. thank the united states. thank the europeans. thank israel that kind of
rung bell on this. and whatever you don't do now you won't do. there is nothing more permanent in the middle east than that which is temporary. if you let them off the hook now with 20%, they will be left with 5.9 tons of uranium, enriched-uranium. maybe four bombs worth. but that four bombs worth again could surge forward if the inspectors aren't there and they decide they want to go forward with new centrifuges. so i think there's a key difference there and i don't see this being bridged at this time. now another factor on iran which maybe we could talk more about in the q&a will be interesting the new defense minister in israel who is not viewed to be as hawkish on the issue but i think it should not be misconstrued. i think he also, i can not find one member of the security establishment who is for containment. i've been looking for years now and i can't find them. right now their view is just that if america is leading hold back.
but if america down lead, same people who have been urging caution including yalon will be the same people urging israel forward. so i think yalon on certain level the tone will be very different than barack. the message will not be fundamentally different between bomb and bombing. he will be on the bombing side if he feels the u.s. and diplomacy does not come forward. what about the other issues? i think another issue that could come up in the meeting is the issue of syria. it definitely will come up but in an operational sense i think there is a debate brewing on the israelly policy circles about how active should israel be in going after hezbollah convoys, taking out strategic weaponry? israel is not as, i think there's more, i find there is no one in israel i think mets the united states, maybe you say this is a big mistake and maybe say i'm not talking to the right people but of all the people i talk to i didn't meet anyone who thought the u.s. would be decisive in syria.
they have kind of, i won't say written off as the united states. they see it as such a mess they don't see how it will be reversed but at the same time they are concerned of hezbollah end of season sale taking whatever weapons that they can either into lebanon or maybe keeping it in a the past syria they deem friendly as kind of a depot of their own. and here i think a lot of israelis who want to start being more proactive in firing on hezbollah convoys there. they hit as you know that sa-17. those, that convoy, israelies are stunned that the russians have given this thing called this anti-ship missile which could hit things in the israeli port before they even leave israel's port. very advanced missiles. they're wondering where hezbollah is going to go next. for them its defensive. it is no the reshaping syria. they think that is way above their pay grade. they think it is above the american pay grade but at
the same time, i think they feel that there might be certain defensive measures. when you ask them about nusrah and things like that, they're not certainly out to do any border zone or anything like that like they did in lebanon. so, i think that the discussion on syria some believe the country is dissent greating. some believe the regime is unraveling. i don't see a policy consensus there yet either. i don't know if it will be a sweeping discussion about syria as it is going to be more limited. on egypt i also felt more optimism than i felt in previous trips. previous trips they were worried that egypt was about to cancel the peace treaty. now they think there is such chronic instability they think they have a lot of other things cooking and this is not what they're going to be looking for. some will point to egyptian progress and in going after rockets, after november. some will point to the flooding of certain hamas tunnels. but others will say, hey,
even the palestinian security people will confirm to you, they didn't flood the tunnels that hamas uses strategic from northern sinai. but still i found more optimism than i would have thought there. on the palestinian issue on the other hand, this is my final point, here i find it a mess, no surprise. but also going to ramallah. maybe i will start with ramallah. in talking to officials there and people close to the president i felt that there's a bit, i will use, i will say they're brimming with confidence. you could say overconfident, that they have israel in the corner. that they believe israel is isolated in the world. that they read everything in the press that's been written and they feel that that november trip, at the u.n. was so you can is testful -- successful that they're willing to go to icc international criminal court. israel will build this
bottleneck area east of jerusalem linking north and south, they say fine. you say it is bravado but more and more palestinians you talk to who believe it is final status or bust and bust for them means the u.n. and not interested in any sort of coordinated unilateralism, you say the word interim agreement sass if you want to rape someone's sister, that is a dirty word there you're really seeing a confidence. i personally hope the president, in his stay over there is able to talk to president abbas like dennis said and speak to them about the limitations of that strategy. two could go to the icc and the israelis keep saying they will go to the ic against the pa and tie them up for years in legal proceedings. i don't know. i don't see how any of this brings peace by the way but i'm concerned about it. i'm also concerned about decision making as well. that, the, on the, i'm also,
well before i say it, israelis say it i'm concerned about the isolation of prime minister fayad when the palestinian official media doesn't report on his activities anymore in the palestinian press. i'm concerned that, on one hand the good news is is the money, more money has arrived lately. you can tell because obama is coming. of course the money is going to come but that is about $600 million has just arrived in the last few months. that, now, palestinians will be paying full salaries this month for the first time in several months. there has been some movement. there is no change on the fatah hamas reconciliation. pa people still tell me they think hamas focus is plo, plo. and we want a technocratic government and we want elections and they're not interested. maybe because they're being supported by qatar. but, so long as they focus on the plo, the reconciliation is going nowhere. on the israeli side i'm
concerned about the decision-making loop. you're losing a few people who were known for restraint on this issue. defense minister ehud barak. dan meridor, part of what they call the octet, prime minister inner consulting group the and they're gone. you have yalon who is more dovish as he may be on iran, at least tactically dovish. more hawkish on the palestinian issue although he is not idealogical. i think if you convince yalon there will be some palestinian reciprocity and saying two states for two peoples you will see yalon and his team will also adjust. without reciprocity they're not going to. so, i think, and also you have ariel, the head of the housing minister, used to have ultra-orthodox person where the ultra-orthodox was main issue now it is finance committee. head of the finance committee of the knesset.
i think that is a different constellation there, that could make this more of an issue. i raise this idea of free beyond the bear i don't remember and i find people are interested. but some say, where is the reciprocity from the palestinian side? we're not justifying the barrier. you know what they call it, apartheid wall. why would we legitimize that? apart from the palestinian issue this is a way for israel regardless of palestinians, vis-a-vis signaling to europe, united states, maybe to its own housing minister that it wants to deepen its connection to the blocks and does that by drawing a distinction between blocks and non-blocks which is 5% of the land you heard me say before where 80% of the settlers live. bottom line i think this is, you know, this is, there are some differences here. i will end with maybe some good news that i found that they have been hopeful that they think someone like nasrallah certainly is
having some strategic distress over, you know, the, you know, the king of the assad regime. more relaxed about that just as more relaxed about egypt and in syria i find a much more limited sort of agenda than i would have thought going in much, instead of believing the u.s. will somehow reorder the middle east to israel's liking i find this is sober kind of a summit, what is doable and what is not doable. a lot of stuff about the new israeli government which i'm happy to discuss in the q&a. this gives you a bit of a sense how you see things. thank you all very much. >> thank you, dave. very good. turn to mike singh. >> thanks a lot, rob. good to be doing this and it's, good to be on this panel with my colleagues. one of the great strengths about the washington institute and one of the things which makes it so nice to work here is to have colleagues like david and dennis and ambassador jeffrey who are here and
great source of wisdom on this topic. i should also start by apologizing to our viewers who have hd screens who had to watch me eat lunch at the beginning. one of the downsides of technology. one of the up sides i told rob we should beginning all these things, saying welcome, mr. secretary, members of congress, members of the diplomatic corps because no one watching on tv knows any different. [laughter] that's the benefit of life streaming. so, i think rob asked me to do this in part because the last presidential trip to the middle east, rather to israel, this part of the middle east, was not by president obama but by president bush and i worked for him at the time. there was a presidential trip in may of 2008 which was to just israel, saudi arabia and sharm el-sheikh for the 60th anniversary of israel's founding, the 75th anniversary of u.s.-saudi relations and the world economic forum conference in
sharm el-sheikh where the president met with king abdullah of jordan, president an because and some others as well. . . >> but it's very interesting as i was thinking about to compare the middle east and our role in it then and now. and if you just go down some of these major issues which my colleagues have been talking about, it's quite stark. obviously, the clearest difference is iraq, which i won't dwell on. obviously, iraq in january 2008 was one of the main themes of the trip.
obviously, that's different now since the u.s. withdrawal from iraq. but looking at the other issues, the israeli/palestinian issue, january 2008 was shortly after the annapolis conference just north of us in maryland, and at that time there was a combination of sort of promise or optimism and alarm about the peace process. promise and optimism because of the annapolis conference and because of the negotiating process which we were hoping to kick off at the time. of course, we'd also had a right after the annapolis conference a big dispute over some construction around jerusalem which, you know, obviously, some things just don't change. but we managed to get over that after the president's trip and actually have a negotiating process. so by may 2008 the negotiations were sort of deep underway. now, obviously, negotiations have been frozen for a matter of years, and hamas, for example, is even more entrenched in gaza than ever before, and we're facing a very different
situation. if you look at la haven't, we had in may 2008 you had hezbollah essentially waging war against the lebanese government, and that came up again and again during that visit, and you also had statement the u.s. bringing significant pressure to bear on syrian president assad in part because of his facilitation of al-qaeda activities in iraq. well, some things have changed and some haven't. obviously, hezbollah is now very entrenched in the lebanese government, and that hasn't changed so much as our focus on it has diminished, i think. we're focused on other things. lebanon is in a way twins -- since 2009 sort of subordinated on the syria issue. we've gone from engagement with assad to now pressure, perhaps even greater than 2008, and assad himself is probably regretting that support for al-qaeda in iraq which is mow coming back to bite him.
finish when it comes to iran, you know, i was reading an article recently in preparation for a different speech about the iran negotiations, and it was of the president saying how the last offer we had made was meeting with a relatively positive response from the iranians. we were feeling optimistic, but we had to give them some time and space while keeping all of our options on the table. the problem is that article is from 2006 which tells you a little bit about how this issue has or hasn't changed. this is the issue which feels the most similar now to where it stood in 2008. obviously, there's more sanctions, but iran's nuclear program has expanded as well, and so this sort of status quo may be deteriorating but, frankly, looks pretty similar. and elsewhere, obviously, we've had these arab uprisings, but even in 2008 our concerns about president mubarak and his ability to continue ruling egypt is sort of his grasp of the situation in egypt was high. that concern was high. and at the time we were trying
to push for the development of political alternatives, i think, because of what you see playing out now. and also i would say for the gulf states, obviously, there were quite a few visits to the gulf states in those trips, and that was a different relationship than the one we have now. it was a very close relationship with the gulf states whereas now we find ourselves, i think, at a distance from the gulf states over issues like the arab uprisings, like iran, like syria, for example. the clearest difference, though, i would say is not on any one of these individual issues as much as it is on a u.s. role in the middle east taken broadly. you know, in 2008 one of the things that's most striking, if you go back and you read those transcripts from the time, it's striking how down in the weeds we were on all these issues whether it's the peace process, whether it's syria, lebanon and so forth. the questions reporters were asking weres questions in minute detail about each aspect of these issues. and if you look now at the types of questions that get asked, types of answers that are given,
we're just engaged at a very different level of detail in issues like the peace process, like lebanon, even like syria and iran, frankly. and i think that the perception in the region -- and i encountered this on a recent trip which i'll mention in just a moment -- is not only are we off the the weeds, in a sense, but we are sort of stepping back more broadly from this region. when you go to the region, you hear from people, rather the examples they cite are the u.s. withdrawal from iraq and afghanistan. the withdrawal of that aircraft carrier which david mentioned from the gulf. our passivity in the face of the conflict in syria and our refusal to get further involved in that. our seeming indifference to, for example, the liberal opposition in a place like egypt or a place like iran, like bahrain, for example. our talk of a pivot to asia which is certainly noted in the middle east and is a topic of discussion there. as well as our sort of political dysfunction and budgetary issues here in the united states.
and so the ironic part of this is that, you know, president obama came to office in 2008 talking about engagement, but i think that the legacy is quickly becoming one of disengagement from this region, of stepping back. and as i mentioned, i was just on a trip that took me not only to the gulf, not only to this region, but farther afield. and the striking thing was that for all the differences that, for example, our gcc allies have on issues like syria or political islam or iran, the one talking point they shared in common -- even the ban -- bahraini opposition, for example, even when i was in south asia, they're all looking for clear articulations of u.s. policies, and they're looking for a stronger role, a more active role for the united states. i think that we often feel here in the united states like we're not wanted in this region, and maybe that's true to an extent in some quarters. i think we feel sometimes, and i think dennis allude today this when he was talking about the way the administration began in the middle that because of mistakes or missteps in places
like iraq that people would like to see us go. i think that, in fact, in the region the opinion is quite the opposite, that because of errors we made there, they view us as having more respondent for securing this region -- responsibility for securing this region. which is, obviously, a gap in how we sometimes perceive it here. but that perception, look, whether right or wrong and whatever its cause, i agree with dennis, there are a lot of unknowns in the region which makes it difficult to get involved down in the weeds. that perception is undermining our policy in the region, i think. our allies, for example, are hedging their bets, because they're not sure if they can, at the end of the day, count on us. i think this is clearest with israel, and i agree with my colleagues that, you know, parking lot of this visit to israel -- part of this visit to israel for president obama will be trying to instill confidence. but i think it's true more broadly as well. you see the gulf states acting more autonomously. and this idea of a hub and spoke
model in the middle east with the u.s. as its center and our allies kind of on the spokes has really changed. and i think it's not clear at this point what the new order or new structure will be and what role we'll have in it, whether it's at the center or the periphery. the transitional countries, egypt, tunisia, places like this, libya, i think, are not convinced of the value proposition of alliance with the united states, and that's a problem for us going forward. and then, of course, our adversaries, iran and groups affiliated with iran, for example, have perception which i think is wrong of the united states as being in some sort of irreversible decline, that if they simply wait, if they simply hang back, that we'll eventually disengage, and they don't need to worry about what we might do. i think that this visit to the middle east needs to be a fresh start for president obama, a renewed commitment to the region. and i think it has to start with record riing less -- worrying less about public opinion. and here maybe i diverge from my
colleagues in saying i think it would be a mistake to look at this visit in terms of the public aspect of it, the public diplomacy. i think we've worried too much about public opinion in the region and, in fact, have made very little impact on public opinion in the region and not enough about the interests of our allies. at the end of the day, alliances are about shared interests, and i think that we need to go and talk to these governments about those shared interests and convince them that we're going to act to advance those shared interests. and i think if we do that and if actions follow that, the public will come around as well, frankly. especially in democracies. and when it comes to democracy, look, i think that the arab uprisings have proven very challenging to this idea of supporting democracy. i think what we need to realize is that, for example, in a place like egypt supporting democracy means more than simply backing the victors of elections. because, frankly, those victors, those groups may themselves act undemocratically. i think we're seeing some of that in egypt now. i think it means supporting the institutions of democracy, the rule of law, constitutions, political parties and, of
course, repeated elections. not just one election. and i think we need to focus more on that and more on building this kind of fabric of democracy in the region and less on feeling we need to endorse whoever wins an election. and finally, look, we need to be prepared to be judged on our actions and not just on our words. so just giving another high profile speech is not going to cut it. people want to see action especially pause there's a view that the 2009 speech, frankly, wasn't really carried out, didn't really translate into policy. and i think the places where we'll be most judged on our actions will be syria and iran. and i think in syria, look, we need to stake out a strategy, we need to put resources behind it, we need to build a coalition around it. i think it's very damaging, this idea that the united states is pass i or unable to -- passive or unable to accomplish its objectives when people see syria as the most immediate national security priority for the united states and our allies. when it comes to rapp, i think we need to reconcile the conflicting mens we often send
on iran. we say the military option is on the table, we won't hesitate to use force, but we take an aircraft carrier out of the gulf. we talk about preventing iran from getting a nuclear weapons capability, but then we seem prepared to make concessions in the negotiations which are difficult to understand against, against those statements. and i think what we need to do is, first, clarify the objective. and i think dennis mentioned this, and i agree. what does it mean, what does prevention mean? how do we think of this idea of a nuclear weapons capability, and is it the same as our allies, especially israel? you saw a little bit of dissonance in the president's remarks about iran being a year or more away from a nuclear weapon, and the dni's remarks about they haven't decided whether they're going to make a nuclear weapon. i think there's a common view between the president and the dni -- or at least i hope so -- but we have a hard time articulating that view and explaining how that might be the
same or different from, for example, the way israel sees it. i think if you can clarify that objective that this is about, perhaps, preventing an undetext bl breakout, then you can start to explain the concessions you willing to make in terms of that objective and persuade your allies that, in fact, your stance in el patty, your stance in these negotiations furthers that objective you share with them. these are just two examples, but i think they're the most important. i hi the test -- i think the most important message that needs to come out of this trip is that we're getting back in the game, back down in the weeds, as it were. thanks very much. [applause] >> great. very good. three very insightful presentations about different aspects of this trip. lots of different angles which we can address in this topic. i was, i was, remarked to myself about david's use of the term
"sober," and he actually found good news in the fact that egypt is near collapse. [laughter] and that because of this near collapse the egyptians are so focused internally, they don't have time to, i guess, make mischief on their borders. i assume that's how the israelis are viewing it. two other, like, little pieces of sobriety that i just wanted to put on the table quickly. um, i do think there's something to the fact that both president obama and prime minister netanyahu got themselves reelected. in the world of political leaders, there's a special place for leaders who manage to get re-election. it's no small achievement. and i think the level of mutual respect -- grudging, perhaps -- but the level of mutual respect goes up. and it only operates in that rarefied world of people who know what is involved in the entire process of figuring out and working on getting one's
self reelected. they will be with each other for a period of time. they're not going to be trying to undermine each other although this israeli government is perhaps less solid than the previous israeli government. maybe david wants to comment on it. but i do think there's something, there's something that contributes to the solidity of the relationship when the two leaders look at each other as reelected by their own, by their own politics. and the other part i wanted to make is ironically, both men come to this summit with a much heavier emphasis on the need to address internal politics in their own countries as opposed to the normal issues on their bilateral agenda. i mean, it's a very quick trip for the president. he's coming back to deal with the end of government which is supposed to hand in a few days, and prime minister netanyahu's new government is at least as much about domestic issues as it is everything we've just with spoken about. so i just wanted to put those
items on the table. there's lots more to talk about in terms of jordan and perhaps the very important message the president is sending by going, this is his first trip to an arab country, i believe, since the series of arab uprisings, and he's picking a monarchy that hasn't witnessed the same sorts of tumultuous change, and what message this sends, i think, is very powerful. in any case, let me turn now to your questions and your comments. please be kind enough to direct your question to one of our participants so that all three don't have to answer every question. and please be brief and wait for the microphone, um, and identify yourself when that happens. we'll start right in front here with yap. >> [inaudible] the reports the last few months speculation since the united states and president obama will be less active in palestinian/israeli issues,
peacemaking, that he may leave that to others, especially the europeans, which could mean not objecting to what europeans are doing or are encouraging be it in the u.n. or places like -- [inaudible] european countries are labeling products from the west bank as not coming from israel, things like that. any thoughts on that? >> and, dennis, do you want to -- >> i doubt that. first, as i said before, he chose to take this trip, and the trip itself sends a signal that he retains an interest in this, number one. number two, it's never going to be in the u.s.' interest to see bad ideas adopted. we're going to end up having to puck up the pieces anyway. -- pick up the pieces anyway. is so those who think he's washing his hands of it, if he was, he wouldn't be taking the trip there, number one.
number two, his secretary of state has made it very clear this is an issue of great interest to him, and i think part of this trip is designed to not only send the president's in it, but to create, in a sense, wind behind the back of the secretary of state. and number three, as i said, if you adopt ideas that are in the end going to be destructive to trying to get anything done, the united states is going to have a posture on that. and the united states won't remain indifferent to it. >> mike? >> i want to say something, but it's to echo what dennis said. i think it's important we use this term honest broker, and it's important to keep in mind what this means. you know, the term originates with business -- bismarck. but the idea of it was not somehow that you have a neutral mediator. because, let's face it, there's lots of neutral mediators in the world. your close to both sides. and the fact is that only the
united states can play that role. and i think there was actually a misunderstanding about that early on in this administration. that somehow we needed to distance ourselves from one side or the other instead of actually being quite close to the other. and i think that one thing we'll hopefully detect or see out of this trip is whether that i view has changed, whether there's an understanding of, look, the first thing we need to do is establish the confidence and trust of both sides if we're going to play a useful role here. it also means, frankly, there is no one else that can play this role, and the danger is not so much that someone else will come along and become the honest broker, but more destructive forces will come into play whether it's hamas, whether it's iran, for example, that will take advantage of the stagnancy in the issue to create trouble. >> thank you. mr -- [inaudible] on my left. >> thank you. my name's -- [inaudible] my question is for -- and david
makovsky. in this room a few weeks back, senator rubio advised the president not to do anything, not to launch. any new initiatives. but since then we've heard the president might suggest to the israelis a timetable for ending the occupation in the palestinian state. i want to know is that a good idea at this time especially in view of the israeli government, and what do you respond to that? thank you. >> dave, do you want to start in this one, and we'll move backwards? >> look, the israelis have very relaxed in terms of believing obama's going to come with some policy initiatives or ultimatum, something of any sort. and jay carney said on the record he wasn't going to come with that. they all believe him, actually. and i think the question is more of how does two new governments work together. dennis pointed out you have secretary kerry who wants to prioritize this among maybe half a dozen issues, and you have a
new israeli government that cannot help but deal with this issue. i don't think this president wants on his watch the next four years that the two-state solution expires. and i think that's a strong statement, but i think that's really true when you think of of the pace of settlement activity. that's not a big concern. so even if you can't do a grand deal, if you can insure that you preserve the option for a two-state solution, i think that's very important. so even though i don't think there's any drama, immediate drama or any confrontation between these two leaders now, i think it would be a mistake because everyone in washington has forgotten a about the palestinian issue, and maybe people in the middle east have got much bigger issues on their own agenda that somehow this issue is somehow going to just fade out. i fear that we'll just be, there'll be an upsurge in either violence or a different sort of an ant -- intifada.
and each side knows that this issue is not going away. and so i think it would be a mistake to put the focus on some sort of mealed confrontation. -- immediate confrontation. i don't see that. but work with the palestinians to find a way out. and that's why i made my point about the u.n., because i think it's -- it might be seductive for the palestinians, but i don't think that's going to give a two-state solution either. so, you know, each side here has got to find a way how they're going to go forward, what the policy options are, i'd be happy to discuss it. but i don't see the this issue, you know, fading out, nor do i see imminent collision. >> dennis, let me ask a question slightly differently. the administration has, um, the administration has done a gallant effort of lowering expectations and, actually, terming this a listening tour. almost as though this is a new president who hasn't been in
office already for four-plus years. and we shouldn't forget the president actually has a middle east peace plan on the table. may 2011. about which we hear very little. i think almost nothing in the press briefings about this. can the administration, um, sort of shelf that, put that in the drawer and start afresh? and do people, are the people in the region going to let him shelf it and tart afresh? -- start afresh? >> you know, i think that both the key to what you're asking and what he was asking are very similar. the question is, what's to be done? you know, what shouldn't be done is to launch something that you know is going to fail. because what we have right now, since this is sort of a rye remember song of -- siren song of mine, is a profound sense of disbelief on both sides.
so if you do something that's guaranteed to fail, all you're going to do is make failure a self-fulfilling prophesy. and there may not be a shelf life on the issue of the ideas the president raised because i think the may 2011 speeches -- and there were two within three days of each other -- they reflect basic assumptions about what it takes in terms of goals for an agreement and also parameters for trying to reach such an agreement. the question isn't whether those ideas are ideas that somehow don't exist anymore, i think they exist. the question is, what do you do now to deal with what is a stalemate? and the longer the stalemate goes on, the deeper the disbelief and the greater the risk that the very idea of two states is lost. and if the very idea of two states is lost, then both sides will lose because eventually they'll have to come back to it. but you'll go through some process that is highly destructive where the pain is
quite intense on both sides. i think one of the reasons it doesn't make sense to say there's nothing to be done is because then you're going to end up dealing with the consequences of that, and it seems to me what this trip is about is not so much the idea that the president will forget ideas that he presented, but this trip is about talking with the leaders on each side without having expectations. the problem when you go and expectations are high is the kind of private conversations you have are completely different. each side in a situation like that having been there before, each leader in a situation like that then feels the need to sort of get into much more of a defensive crouch. and they're worried about, all right, what is it that i have -- what is expected of me, you know? i'll never forget a trip i took to see rabin right after president clinton had seen president assad in geneva in january 1994. and prior to the trip, we had, you know, the prime minister
conveyed to us what it is he wanted to see come out of it. and we actually produced what it is he wanted to see come out of it. so i walked into the meeting with rabin feeling highly confident, you know, all right, we did what you asked. and the first thing he did was immediately devalue what i came with. now, why did he do it? because he knew i was coming to ask something of him. and if you go into these kinds of meetings and the expectations are very high, then each leader is suddenly worried about what you're going to ask of them. when the expectations are low, you're in a much better position to have a serious conversation, and you can actually explore, all right, what are the possibilities here. but maybe the way you frame that conversation is by talking about what are the consequences of not getting anything done with each side? and if the consequences are severe enough, how can we think together about what it is that could be possible, and where could there be some points of
commonality that we could then build on? i expect that, you know, you're going to have -- there'll end up being serious conversations in private that are much more likely to be held precisely because no one is anticipating that he's coming in there and laying a plan on the table. >> thank you. yes, right here. you want to go? >> hi, john -- >> jonathan, take the mic right behind you. >> jonathan rhine hold, george washington university -- [inaudible] um, what are the consequences inside israel following on from what dennis just said, of the feeling of being relaxed that the president's not going to have a plan? certainly, when obama won the election, there was very much, well, we're going to have to come up with something. and in that context, you mentioned that the palestinians have no respect for an interim agreement. um, but if something like that was put forward and involved movement onset elements, wouldn't it, wouldn't it just
inevitably move forward because you can't really say no to something like that? >> here's -- i'm glad you enabled me to answer this. i thought the one idea i heard on the palestinian side was this idea of a mutual freeze which is let's take time out. six months, we don't do anything at the icc, the u.n., any u.n. agency. and let's just talk to bebe. but do that, we want the israelis to fully freeze settlements everywhere. so the israelis like the first part, they don't like the second part. and they consider that a nonstarter. and the palestinians will consider a nonstarter any freeze beyond the barrier. so you get into a lot of these zero sum issues that are very hard. the question is, to me, i mean, i kind of dangled this idea of reciprocity. that, to me, is the one hook that i kind of saw some light which is if each side saw that
the other side was doing something, then maybe they would do something. and, you know, the problem is i don't see them doing the full freeze. and israel won't value the full freeze, the issue of east jerusalem's going to come up. i mean, it's just -- but i think it gets to dennis' point on the disbelief. and i also did an op-ed in "the washington post" on this issue, the need for synchronized political messaging to the publics. because how could it be that each side would say we're for a two-state majority, but the other side isn't, therefore, it won't happen? so there's got to be something where these leaders have an interest because, as dennis said, the question is, what if nothing is done? there's going to be a radicalization. so i do, i'm concerned about that. what that reciprocity will mean, i don't know yet. but i found when i tried out this idea of much more focus on public confidence building, you know, i got shot at by both sides. because no one wants to take that sort of time, and they don't want to engage in that, in
that way maybe pause they feel it put -- because they feel it puts obligations on them to reciprocate. but i think reciprocity has got to be that one hook, that one light here that whatever that quid pro quo is, that that somehow is that baseline for moving things upward, even if it isn't as sweeping as a please for freeze. >> david, while you're at the podium, can you take 30 seconds to give us a little bit more in the weeds assessment of who actually in the new israeli government takes responsibility for these issues, what is the role betweening livni, the nonexistent foreign minister, the new minister of finance who has an interest in this, etc. i mean, don't take us, like, deep underground -- >> right, right. okay. as quick -- look, you know, you
were right, rob, when you talked about how the domestic agenda is pivotal for both governments, maybe in a way that it hasn't been in the past. certainly recently. that's true. i think the question for me is netanyahu has that forum where that was kind of his consul thattive forum. and he felt he had a partner there by the name of ehud barak, the defense minister. there's no barak anymore, and he doesn't have the same relationship with the new defense minister even though he's of his own party. he looks around the table and sees four guys, liebermaning who has legal issues but sees himself coming back to the foreign ministry, la period who has said he's going to run against him and bennett, the head of this new party on the right. it's unclear to me, i think you have a knowledge deficit that you didn't have the last time around. when you had someone with
barak's experience, begin's experience, all these guys are gone. and the question is, does that mean the wheels, the brakes have come off the train? and that now it's more of a runaway car? or are you saying, no, not at all. livni might be there, and there'll be people who might not have the same amount of years of experience, but are maybe counterpoints to some of the other forces. so what's unclear to me yet is to what extent that forum that netanyahu relied upon, how central is that going to be? what is going to mean the loss of that knowledge, that deficit of experience? but i do think for the key factor, he definitely sees that his goal is that israel just be a normal western country, that the middle class have a better quality of life. sounds very familiar to people here. but he has said that the road to that is dealing with palestinian
issue. not dividing jerusalem, but everything else. we've got to work this out. i don't know, though, you know, what that means. you have bennett gave an interview or somewhere he was of quoted in a column. when the reporter asked him about iran, he goes, i have no clue. now, this is a guy that's going to be on the inner sanctum of israel, and he says i have no clue. so i just wonder how this constellation is going to configure itself, and i would hope that a lot of time foreign diplomats, you know, whether it's in europe, when it's our country, the united states, that we spend a lot of time with these new people going to be sitting around the table. but i think the central factor, and i don't want to go too much in the weeds to keep to your idea, rob, the central factor here is that these two guys, bennett and la pied, have been the central axis of this government, and yet netanyahu was convinced he could break that alliance the day after the
election, and he'll do it through the front door or the side door, the back door or the chemony. he will do it, and he will get a government more to his liking where he can keep his ultra orthodox base. and what he found out was that these two guys had only met one but live right here each other in israel, and except for the west bank, they have almost identical views. and i would look at these two young guys and see just as netanyahu could not break that alliance in the runup to the coalition and those two prevailed, to what extent are they a force going forward. i don't know be they'll be a force on diplomacy or not because here they actually differ. anyway -- >> okay, thank you. i have some questions over here. um, one, two, three, and then other here. back here. >> victor. isn't there a critical message, public message that has to be sent to iran and to the israelis about iran and their nuclear
program? and what is that critical message? to dennis, please. >> well, i think the essence of that message is that when the president says that prevention is the objective, he means it. look, the key to coercive diplomacy working is having no doubts about the readiness to fulfill the threats you make. mike was saying there's been some mixed messaging, and i think he's right. the way to deal with that is to make sure there's one consistent message. i don't think it requires the president to say anything that he hasn't said. i think it's completely consistent. his message has been pretty much consistent, but i think it is important, you know, that, frankly, when he talks about iran, inevitably it's going to come up because the focus is going to be that way in israel.
but if he -- i would hope he would say something about iran will as well so it becomes clear when he's talking about iran, it's not only because he's israel. >> at the end of the day, you know, we've -- by their behavior have signaled, you know, they tend to respect certain kinds of thresholds. and i think the more they come, they become convinced that we are, that we want diplomacy to succeed, and i think the core of the message ought to be we very much want diplomacy to succeed. but at the end of the day, that'll be up to the iranians. if they want diplomacy to succeed, a good possibility it can. but when the president says, you know, the clock is ticking, that the window will close, that has to be clear that, n., there's
going to -- in fact, there's going to come a point where if we don't see a change in iranian behavior, we will act to fulfill the objective that the president has laid out. >> mike? do you want to add something? >> i just want to build on what dennis said because i think i would go even a step further which is i think that, first, i want to reiterate what dennis said. this isn't really a u.s./israel issue. it tends to be portrayed that way very often, and i think that's primarily because the u.s. and israel are the two countries mt. world which could use -- in the world which could use sort of independent force against iran. but i think the jordanians are just as concerned about it as well as our allies in the region. so i think everyone in the region will be listening for this message. and that includes the iranians. and i think that the message to the iranians in addition to what dennis said has to be that the u.s. and israel are together on this in the sense that we share
some kind of agreement on our objective. because i think there's a danger that, look, israel's a strategic asset to the united states. the united states is undoubtedly a strategic asset to israel. and severing that alliance would be a tremendous boon to a country like iran, to the iranian regime, i should say. and we don't want the iranian regime to feel that through their actions by saying getting in some space between israeli and u.s. red lines that they could somehow fracture that alliance even at the expense of enduring a military attack from israel or from others. if they have that in their minds then, of course, there's an incentive for them to push forward beyond the israeli red line which would be very dangerous, i think. so i think there has to be a clear message not just about prevention, but also about the solidarity between the u.s. and israel on our objectives, on our red lines. >> thank you. yes, please. >> thank you. my name is connor goddard, i'm from the project on middle east democracy. my question is for ambassador
ross and mr. singh. it was mentioned that president obama's first trip will be to an arab monarchy after the uprising. what message does this p send to the jordanian people, many of whom are still asking for new election laws? and, two, airs around the regions who -- arabs around the region and, secondly, more importantly, what should obama say while he's in jordan to reassure the arab people that the u.s. is still committed to the values of human rights and chem accuracy? -- democracy? thank you. >> gentlemen? >> you know, i think the best posture on this is also not unlike what i was saying about the iranian issue. this is not an issue for one place that e egos to. we should have a -- place that he goes to. we should have a set of common principles that we're talking about all the time when he comes to the area. of yes, he's going to a
monarchy, yes, we have a very strong strategic stake in the wellbeing of jordan and of king abdullah and his government. i think the president many public should everyone -- in public should emphasize our commitments to jordan, as well as our commitment to a set of principles and how we want to see them fulfilled everywhere. privately, i think, with the king very much of the focus should be on how does, how can we work with jordan to improve their governance. i think there's few things that will have more of a positive effect over time than enhancing the effectiveness of jordanian governance, and i think, you know, the mix of public and private messages is something that, you know, we should be -- should be a part of this trip overall. >> mike? >> let me say i don't think -- i think in part the premise of the question is not really fair in the sense that i don't think
it's right to say that the administration's been silent on human rights abuses anywhere in the region, whether in bahrain or elsewhere. in fact, i think that the policy today should be the policy that we had in 2008, that we should be helping each one of these countries in some way to find the right path towards political and economic reform. and that's a very difficult path. and i think one thing the arab uprising demonstrates is that this is a difficult path to find a sort of political evolution that leaves everybody in the country better off, that might be superior, frankly, to revolution. and i think that when he goes to jordan, for example, the jordanians have been a close ally, a good ally. and i think there's an interest there in the government, frankly, in reform. and so that will be part of the conversation. but i think our role there is going to be to support that process, in a sense. and i think, frankly, i agree with dennis that this is both, this is a strategic issue for the u.s. and israel as well. and so this will undoubtedly
come up in israel, and i think the president should be prepared to talk about it there, and i'm sure he will. >> yes, ralphie. >> ralphie -- [inaudible] and my question is addressed to michael. michael, you said that a strategic convergence between israel and the united states would need to prevent iran from getting a nuclear weapons capability. now -- netanyahu -- [inaudible] but the president has only talked about preventing iran from getting a nuclear weapon. is there anything new in the administration's position to -- [inaudible] also as officially come to the conclusion -- [inaudible] nuclear weapon? >> well, you know, frankly, this might be a better question for dennis, because i think, look, our message has been mixed on this front. i grief f agree with you that the president has, for example, in his last interview on the subject, he said weapon as
opposed to weapons capability. whereas capability clearly has been both the israeli focus as we saw from prime minister netanyahu's september speech as well as the u.s. focus in the past. i think, though, frankly, the terminology the cus uses has varied which, again, sends a mixed message. the point i think here is i do believe that underlying that, and i believe it's just based on the kind of totality of the evidence that, in fact, both the u.s. and israel are focused on preventing an undetectable breakout, or at least that's certainly my hope. so you look at the question of, well, how quickly could iran develop the weapons-grade uranium for a single or, you know, a single nuclear weapon. and how can we be sure that we can prevent them from getting to that point? i would argue that the weaponization part of this is really in a sense, and we've talked about this before, really in a sense not relevant to this consideration. because once they have the fuel, i think the concern is that the weaponization part of it is
harder to detect, can take place in other facilities in a shorter time a frame. i think, you know, that the underlying sort of policy objective there is the same. but we need to make sure that we speak clearly about that, and then we need to talk about what that means. as dennis said before, and how that fits in with the strategy we have in the negotiations and in every aspect of our iran policy. so, look, i think this is an issue that as my colleagues said, this has to be clarified between the two leaders in these discussions. >> thank you. maury? >> actually -- >> you've got to take the mic, and then right in back. >> actually, rafi was asking my question i was going to ask. i think there's a fundamental difference in how they're looking at when the united states says it will prevent iran from getting a nuclear weapon. i think they've hidden, the administration has hidden behind the concept of when they actually start building the weapon. and i think this will be a major
issue in the talks between netanyahu and the president. >> all right. both you gentleman. of dennis and then -- all right. >> look, i think to get to maury's point, look, i think israel has a two-pronged fear which is if they go above 20% and say within 30, 40 days can get weapons-grade fuel and 90% enrichment, they'll ask two questions; will you know it in time, and will you act on what you know? and that i don't think they feel they've gotten satisfactory answers. i'm sure, again, i have no doubt there's a strategic convergence between the united states and israel. nobody wants iran to get a bomb. that's a given. the question is more on the policy level which is how will you know it in time, and how will you act on what you know in those 30-40 days? and that's why i think israel's fear of drawing the line the way
it did. but that's only part of the puzzle, because even if you say the goal of the p5+1 talks is to make sure there is no 20% enrichment, israel will say what about the four bomb, the 5.9 tons of lower enriched uranium that they can surge very quickly? and i just feel it always comes back to those same two questions. and it's under that broader rubric of how do you prevent. but, you know, you have to get into the weeds on those, on those two questions. and i just think there's been a deadlock. >> dennis, weapon or capability to make a weapon? >> well, i think, you know, there's a reason that you have ambiguity here, and the reason you have ambiguity, first of all, is because to define capability is not a simple thing to do. according to some definitions you could say they had it some time ago. so the issue is what's the point. and this is really what mike was raising. what's the p point at which you
lose confidence in your ability to prevent them from presenting the world with a fait accompli? because they can move more quickly than you can discover it and respond. now, the fact is what david is suggesting, there isn't a deadlock on this. that's just wrong. there have been very serious discussions between the two sides, and there are, there are differences in perspective. and the perspective, i would say i think the gap between the two habanerod, and i think what -- has been has been has been narrowed, but i think you'll find the two leaders, i think, will have an extensive discussion on the meaning of prevention. and that's the core of this issue. what's the point at which the objective of prevention would lose its meaning? because you can no longer insure that you can achieve what you've said you would achieve. >> thank you. we're going to -- i'm sorry, we're going to have to close right back there. yes, please. microphone. >> hi, my name is jana, i'm a
freelance journalist, so i work for whoever takes my story. [laughter] my question is about -- >> very successful news organization. [laughter] >> it is. the future of journalism. my question is for michael, and you spoke a little bit about the relationship with the gcc countries, and i was wondering if you could elaborate a little bit more on that and if we could talk about if the changing energy environment globally and especially in the united states as the united states becomes more energy self-sufficient rather than independent and how that impacts the relationship with the middle east specifically with the gcc countries. >> sure. you know, i think that, look, we've had some divergences between ourselves and the gcc countries. some of it comes down to messaging, as we were saying before. i think the gcc countries and our allies across the region have the same sorts of reservations and worries about exactly what is the u.s. policy on something like iran as, for example, israel does.
they have the same worries about will the u.s. actually back up those policies as our other allies do. and that extends beyond the middle east, frankly, to allies further afield. i think that the divergences have been over things like, for example, the ascendancy of islamist groups. the united states has been relatively sanguine about that whereas some of our allies are worried about the intentions of groups like the muslim brotherhood in egypt, for example. when it comes to iran, i think there's a concern, again amongst our allies, that we focus exclusively on the nuclear issue whereas many of our allies see the rain items -- iranians in a much broader sense causing trouble in the region. and, again, i don't think it's that the administration here doesn't see those things, but it's a matter, again, of perception. i don't think we're perceived as being sufficiently engaged on some of those issues. and when it comes to the energy relationship, look, i think this
is in many ways overblown. i think that energy independence in terms of supply is a good thing for the united states in terms of our energy security for many, many reasons. but that doesn't mean that we'll suddenly not care about, for example, energy prices. energy prices which will continue to be set in many ways in the middle east. and affected by events in the middle east. affects so many things. in the global economy and the u.s. economy. the security of our allies whether in the middle east or further afield, you know, frankly, on every continue innocent depend in many ways -- continent depend in many ways on energy prices, food prices and so fort. so i think our independence of supply will be excellent, but it really won't diminish the interests we have in the middle east. i, frankly, don't hear a lot of concern about that when i go to the region. i hear much more about it here, frankly. >> very good. well, thank you, dennis, david,
and mike. thank you for your presentations, and thank you all for joining us today. and, please, look out on your, um, on your e-mails for, again, the release of this strategic transition paper, obama ii in the middle east by dennis and jim jeffrey and for what i'm sure will be the written analysis of the president's trip that my colleagues will be producing, um, and will be transmitting to you probably as he's flying home. so thank you all very much for joining us today. bye-bye. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
>> and president obama departs this evening for a three-country visit to the middle east. it is his first trip to israel as u.s. president. he arrives wednesday and will meet with israeli president peres in jerusalem. the afternoon, prime minister netanyahu. thursday the president will go to the west bank, and he'll meet with palestinian authority president mahmoud abbas. he'll return to jerusalem for a speech on thursday night, and then friday president obama will visit jordan where he'll meet with king abdullah. he also has a number of speeches and visits that he plans to take along the way. president obama will return to washington on saturday. >> 34 years ago today we began providing televised access to the everyday workings of congress and the federal government. the c-span networks, created by america's cable companies in 1979 and brought to you as a public service by your television provider.
>> and we can take pictures of the brain with mri scans or ct scans or pet scans and see the whole thing, but there's this enormous gap in between about how the circuits in the brain function in order to be able to move my hand or to look at you and process that information or to lay down a memory. we don't know how that works. with technologies yet to be invented, so a lot of this is going to be technology development, and a lot of it's going to be nanotechnology, what we aim to do is to be able to record from thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of brain cells at the same time. and be able, therefore, to understand how these circuits work. that's the brain activity map that's being talked about. very early days. we don't really have a scientific plan yet about milestones and timetabling and costs -- timetables and costs, but it's getting to be a very exciting moment to put something together that we couldn't have thought of. >> more with nih director
dr. francis collins sunday night at 8 on c-span's "q&a." >> the senate is in recess right now allowing member toss attend their weekly party meetings. they'll be back at 2:15 eastern to continue working on the cr, a bill that will keep the federal government operating through september. yesterday senators agreed the cut off debate on the senate democrats' version of the bill. the next measure up for considering is the tax and spending blueprint for fiscal year 2014. live coverage at 2:15 eastern here on c-span2. south carolina is holding a primary today in the 1st congressional house district. here's a look at that race. >> host: well, here is the front page of the state newspaper this morning, a story by gina smith for the island packet. turnout will decide today's election for the 1st congressional seat in south carolina. gina smith is joining us on the phone this morning. of gina smith, tell me about
this race. who's running and why? >> guest: well, good morning from south carolina. this is like christmas morning for me, i'm so excited. [laughter] this is really an exciting race. we have 18 republicans, two democrats, an incredibly crowded field. but some of the names in this race just make it just delicious to watch. we have mark stanford, the former -- sanford, the former governor who most of the nation remembers as the guy who slipped out of the country in 2009 so he could go visit his mistress, and he -- everyone thought he was hiking the appalachian trail, but he was up to something else instead. and so governor sanford is back on his redemption tour. we also have teddy turner who is ted turner, founder of cnn and the liberal magnet, he is in the race too. we also have elizabeth colbert
bush, the comedian steven colbert's sister. >> host: so there is a republican primary and a democratic primary today. is sanford leading for the primary? >> guest: he is. it is really an amazing thing. this is one of those comeback stories that you would not have ever seen, or if you thought it was going to happen, it would be five years from now, you know, eight years from now. just in four short years, mark sanford has managed to turn this completely around. he's running a lot of tv ads talking about, you know, forgiveness, that he believes in a god of second chances and reminding voters about his, basically, his history as governor, as a member of congress, his fights to reject federal stimulus money, his fights to reform state government. and that is really resonating with republican voters here who
just really feel fed up with washington. a lot of concerns about federal spending, the federal debt, and they just see mark sanford as the guy who could fix it and seem to be willing to look past the problems from 2009. >> host: so is he, though, the clear front runner? will he come out ahead of today's primary without a runoff? if not, what happens next? >> guest: yeah, i don't think he's going to be able to get the, you know, majority of votes. right now everyone's internal polling shows him with about a third of the votes. so there's definitely going to be a runoff. who he's going to be in that runoff yet is yet to be determined. there's several candidates who are separated by just a couple percentage points, so it's hard to say. teddy turner is one of those candidates. a guy named curtis positive tick, a former council member
down here, who just really, you know, he hasn't spent a lot of money. he's not a big name id guy. his ads, he doesn't have many, and the ones he have are pretty low quality, to be honest with you. but here's a guy who's managed to tap into the home school community. he and his wife home school their children. he's also done a really good job of getting support of a lot of evangelical christians in the area. and these are people who aren't interested in what the tv ads are saying. they know curtis because they go to church with him, he has over the 15 years had about three different christian radio talk shows. they're familiar with him, they like him. and so he's sort of been able to coalesce those people who are turned off for lack of a better word because of mark sanford's personal feelings -- >> host: right. i was just going to ask if that is a factor in this at all. you were the reporter who caught then-governor mark sanford at
the airport when he was returning from argentina at that trip. you were at the airport. is this playing a role? >> guest: it is. it is for those voters. like i said, i feel that more voters are looking past it saying, gee, you know, we definitely don't like the fact that he had an affair, but we really think this is the guy to send to washington, you know? he's been in the public life for 20 years, and we know what he's about, we know what he stands for, and while south carolina's a small state, there's only seven members of the congressional delegation, there's nobody quite like mark sanford who can, you know, go into republican caucus meetings and drop the stink bomb and, you know, raise cane about this, that and the other when it comes to federal spending. but there is, there's a small group, yeah, who have some problem with that affair. and they seem to be coalescing around curtis bostick. >> host: so is this likely
toened up in republican hands or democratic hands? whose seat would whoever wins fill? >> guest: yeah, this is most likely to go to whoever wins the republican runoff. this is a seat that was drawn by republican state lawmakers. it's very much demographically meant for a republican. elizabeth colbert bush is expected to win the democratic primary today, and, you know, i just -- while she is well financed, while she has a lot of name id, while her brother has been here in south carolina campaigning for her, they've been doing fundraisers together in the new york, she's just -- her message is not going to work with so many of the voters in this district. >> host: all right. gina smith with the island packet, thank you very much for your time. >> guest: thank you. >> and we will, of course, keep an eye on that race and have results if they become available. well, the u.s. senate is about to return to session. they've been holding their
weekly party meetings. more work on the cr this afternoon, also possible the fy-2014 budget. also, quickly, the associated press is reporting this afternoon the sponsor of a proposed assault weapons ban says senate majority leader harry reid has told her that the ban will not be a part of the initial gun control measure the senate will debate next month. california senator dianne feinstein says instead of being included in the measure, the ban will be offered z an amendment. the ban seems to stand little chance of surviving because of expected -- defections expected from republicans, likely also defections from some moderate democrats. and now to live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2.
the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: i ask unanimous consent i be acknowledged for up to seven minutes as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. inhofe: thank you, madam president. we -- we've been listening to our -- our good friend from kansas concerning this contract air traffic control towers. i think of all of the -- there's no better example to use than saying -- picking up a bureaucracy and taking somebody that everybody wants, that's very inexpensive and using that to try to force people to do something that shouldn't -- that -- that should never have happened. in items of the contract air traffic control towers, this is not just a -- a rural issue. this is something that can happen all around. it happens that i have six in my state of oklahoma. up in kansas, i believe they have five. but the fact is, this is a major safety issue. and the -- with the huge,
bloated bureaucracy of the -- of the f.a.a. to say that we have to close a handful of towers and let people be uncontrolled -- and i know a little bit about that. that's what i did for a living -- is just totally outrageous. so we have an amendment, senator moran and i, to redirect the money within the f.a.a. budget. no additional cost. it would rescind $23.8 million from f.a.a. facilities and equipment. now, facilities and equipment, is that more important than actually having an active control tower in these congested areas? also, $26.2 million from the f.a.a. research and development. well, i can assure you, this is more significant. and no one will look at this rationally ask anrationally ands not. so i encourage my good friend from kansas to pursue this. but very similar to this is something that i, along with several democrats, the primary
one being kay hagan, and -- are concerned about what has happened in terms of a decision that was made by the secretary of defense to take out the tuition assistance, a very small amount of money, for our troops that are over there serving. this is kind of interesting, because i was a product of the draft. my service was not voluntary when i was in, and i thought a total voluntary force would not be effective, and as i found out that it was. well, one of the main reasons that people do sign up, a lot of people say, yes, i want to serve my county, a lot of them say, yes, i want a career in the army, navy, marine, air corps. however, they also want to advance themselves, they want an education. and in many cases, the only way that they can get one is to have this tuition assistance program. i can recall being over in th the -- the mess halls in afghanistan and actually out in the field in afghanistan. we have some 200,000 army troops
over there right now that are participating in this program. and it's not an expensive program. and so all we want to do is -- is to make sure that we give this -- what was taken out just -- of those individuals who are trying to better themselves, trying better them lives -- their lives and work for a career in the military. when you stop and think about the amount of money that could come out, if you just take some of the green initiatives, how many people know that our navy was forced to pay 450,000 gallons of fuel, pay $29 a gallon when you can buy them on the market for $3? all of these things. do we have any business having a biorefinery built by the federal government? these are all things that are in that budget. any one of them would be far more than the assistance that we are giving our troops in their tuition. so i think this is one -- by the way, we are circulating a letter that -- that draws attention to this and we have democrats and
republicans just about even saying, mr. secretary of defense, go ahead and rescind that; we have a lot of waste we need to get rid of but this is not waste. one of our troops' preparation for the future is not a waste of our taxpayers' money. i yield the floor. mr. hatch: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: madam president, our national debt currently stands at $17 trillion. it's difficult to believe that it's reached that level. and that's more difficult to believe is that there is anyone in this country who can look at that number and not feel a sense of urgency to address our nation's spending and debt problems. yet as we begin to debate the first senate budget resolution in over four years, it seems that there are many in this very chamber that seem to think that the size of our debt is no big deal. if you take a good look at the budget we're debating this week, there is really no other
conclusion to draw. the raw overall numbers make a pretty convincing case that the authors of this budget see no real need to change course when it comes to our debt. the budget before us maintains our current unsustainable spending and debt trajectory. it doesn't balance, not at any point. its goal is to grow government, not jobs and the economy. after this budget, the national debt would increase by more than $7 trillion over the ten-year window. that's if we're lucky. in 2023, the debt would be over $24 trillion and rising rapidly. how can anyone bring a budget like this to the floor, one that massively increases our debt without even a faint attempt to reach balance at any time and claim to be fiscally responsible? but that's not all. i haven't even gotten to the worst part yet. true enough, this budget would do some pretty irresponsible
things, but the real story is what this budget doesn't do. everyone knows that the main drivers of our national debt are our entitlement programs -- medicare, medicaid and social security. that fact has been confirmed by the congressional budget office, the program's board of trustees and every serious economist or analyst that has spent longer than five minutes looking over our nation's finances. over the next ten years, we will spend $6.8 trillion on medicare, $4.4 trillion on medicaid, and $11.2 trillion on social security for a combined total of $22.4 trillion. that's trillion with a "t." medicare by itself is extremely problematic. while the percentage of workers paying into medicare has been on decline for over a decade, 10,000 seniors joined the program -- join the program each and everyday. according to the budget we're debating this week, medicare will account for $504 billion
this year alone. now, that comes out to about $1.4 billion a day. over the next ten years, medicare spending will increase by over 70%, according to the medicare payment advisory commission's most recent report. by the end of that time, we'll be spending more every year on medicare than on our entire national defense. even president obama, who has generally been reticent to consider real changes to medicare, has admitted that absent reform, the program will be bankrupt within ten years. the story is not any better with medicaid. in 2013, once again, according to the very budget we're debating, federal spending on medicaid will account for about $265 billion, and if you include what states are spending on medicaid, that's $450 billion. that's $1.2 billion a day for just this one program. over the next ten years, federal
medicaid spending as a share of the u.s. economy is set to grow by 37%, according to o.m.b. and by 2020, 84 million people, nearly 1 out of every 4 americans, will be dependent on medicaid. with social security, we have a problem facing more than $20 trillion with unfunded liabilities over the long term. in the short term, the disability insurance trust fund within social security is projected to be exhausted by 2016. that means that in about three years, disability insurance benefits will, by law, have to be cut by 21%. all combined, social security trust funds will be exhausted by 2038, at which time all social security benefits will have to be cut by 25%. so, madam president, it isn't just that we're spending a lot of money on these programs, it's that these programs are structurally unsustainable.
that is why the director of the nonpartisan congressional budget office has referred to our health care entitlements as our -- quote -- "fundamental fiscal challenge." it's why the social security board of trustees, which includes a number of high-ranking officials in the obama administration, has said that, with regard to social security -- quote -- "legislative action is needed as soon as possible." entitlement reform is not an option, madam president, it's a necessity. it's not a matter of politics, it's a matter of math. america's social safety net is coming apart at the seams, and if these programs are going to be there for future generations, they need serious structural reforms. and if we do that now, it will be much easier than if we wait too much longer. this isn't new information, it isn't privileged or classified. anyone paying attention to our nation's fiscal situation is aware that these challenges
exist. so what do the authors of the senate budget propose we do about it? the answer, unfortunately, is nothing. here's a perfect illustration. the murray budget entitlement plan. we're going to have $22.4 trillion over the -- at the end of ten years -- well, let me just say for a second. if you look at that chart, you'll see that, as i stated, we've projected to spend a total of $22.4 trillion on medicare, medicaid and social security over the next ten years. that's the red bar on the chart. all told, the democrats' budget would reduce medicare spending by $46 billion and spending on medicaid by $10 billion. it would make no changes whatsoever to social security. adding those numbers together, the democrats would reduce entitlement spending by only
$56 billion over the next ten years, or by 0.2%. that is the yellow bar, if you can see it right here on the chart. you heard that right, madam president. the budget resolution before us would reduce entitlement spending by .2% over the ten-year budget window. now, here's the murray entitlement spending versus the baseline. now, if you look at this next chart, you can see the path of entitlement spending over the next ten years in blue. it's the upper line here. that is medicare, medicaid and social security spending. all combined with no changes to our budget. the murray budget spending path for entitlements is in red. it's this little sliver right here.
that's the murray budget. see the difference? the answer, of course, is that you cannot. put simply, this budget ignores our unsustainable entitlement spending and allows it to continue on a path that will bankrupt these programs. the democratic majority has opted to continue to look the other way as our entitlement programs collapse under their own weight. this, madam president, is simply irresponsible and it's an insult to the middle -- to middle-class americans who rely on thee programs and want to keep them protected. in january 2009, president obama, when speaking on entitlements, said addition -- - "what we have done is kick the can down the road. we're now down the road and we're not in position to kick it even further." with this budget, the democrats are refusing to even acknowledge that there's even a can that needs to be kicked. budget doesn't even pay lip service to the need of reforms for our entitlement spending. it ignores the problem entirely.
indeed, if you read the documents accompanying this resolution, you'll find nothing even suggesting that there are any problems with these programs. instead, you'll find a multitude of statements accusing republicans of wanting to -- quote -- "weaken" social security -- quote -- "dismantle medicare," or -- quote -- "make draconian cuts to medicaid." there's a lot of talk about keeping promises but literally no mention of how these promises can or will be paid for. and there's no recognition that this budget sets in place benefit cuts of over 20% for disabled american workers in a few short years while watching other threads of the social safety net fray as trust funds become exhausted. anyone supporting this budget will be sending a clear message to younger generations of americans, which is that they don't really care whether the
safety net will be there for them. this budget is further evidence of what has become a key difference between republicans and democrats. over the last few years, republicans have . mr. udall: nighted around the the-- -- mr. hatch: over the last few years, republicans have united around the principle. republicans haven't chosen this path out of political convenience. that's for sure. this is simply what the reality of our fiscal situation demands. remember than acknowledging the same reality, democrats have opted to attack and vilify any republican. we would suggest that changes to these programs are necessary. they've continued the same talking points of the past claim that all of our nation's fiscal problems can be solved simply by asking the so-called rich to pay a little more in taxes. all the while according to democrats there do not need to
be any substantive changes to entitlements. they've pursued this course even as our debts continue to mount along with evidence that suggests their approach simply is not working. the budget we're debating this week is proof, not only that the democrats are more interested in politics than solutions but also that their policies simply won't work in the real world. this budget would do all the things democrats have said they want to do to grow the government. it would raise taxes by as much as $1.5 trillion. and once again it would leave medicare, medicaid, and social security just as they are. yet in the end this budget never balances. you should this budget -- under this budget, our nation's debt would continue to grow making it more difficult to respond to real crises or emergencies in the future. in the end, our entitlement programs would continue on their path to bankruptcy and we would end up with an even bigger government that we cannot pay for.
"the washington post" editorial page not typically known for being overly critical of the democrats' policies, assessed this budget saying -- quote -- "partisan in tone and play sent in-- --complacent in substance, the budget scores points against the republicans and ensures the party's liberal base that deepens these senators sings commitments toen an unsustainable policy agenda." the editorial concluded by saying that this budget -- quote -- "gives voters no reason to believe that democrats have a viable plan for or even a responsible public assessment of the country's long-term fiscal predicament." i couldn't have said it better myself. madam president, the american people have waited for over four years for the senate democrats to produce a budget. after that you will timing, we now finally have on paper their blueprint for america's future. unfortunately for the american people, the blueprint does not address our nation's most
pressing fiscal challenges. instead, it would continue an unsustainable status quo in terms of both policy and politics. this budget will not grow the economy and jobs, but it will grow the federal government. this budget will never attain balance. it just taxes more and spends more. this budget will not reduce our debt. it burris the middle class even further in debt. this budget will not preserve the safety net for future generations. it allows entitlement programs to perish. that being the case, i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reject in budget and demand a more responsible plan for our country. we need to do better around he here, and admittedly we need to have both parties working together. we used to do that. i used to be part of that.
i wouldn't mind being part of that again. but we've got to find some way of getting together and getting these fiscal problems under control. we can't continue to grow the federal government, and we can't continue to ignore the structural defects in social security, medicaid, and medicare. -- that are eating us alive and are really going to eat us alive over the next ten years, and there isn't a thing in this budget at that does anything to solve those problems. madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
ms. mikulski: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the call of the quorum be vacated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. mikulski: madam president, we're waiting for the two party conferences to conclude and for the democratic leader, the majority leader to come to the floor and kind of talk about the path forward. let me just outline the pending business here. we are now continuing the 30 hours mane mayhours mandated unn the pending resolution. other senators have come to the floor and spoken quite passionately on the budget that senator murray and senator sessions have worked on. i'm eager to get to that discussion, too, because it will be about the fiscal funding for
2014, and really the path ahead. the way we get to the budget is to finish the bill that i have pending. the methodology for getting to that is for yielding back the 30 hours. so if you want to get to the budget, which i really want to, let's yield back the time under the 30 hours. right now it's scheduled to expire style after midnight. we can talk about talk. we can talk about bills, but we can actually, i believe, move expeditiously to conclude the continuing funding resolution, because, remember, when we finish our business on the continuing funding resolution, it must return to the house for them to say "yes" or "nay" to our substitute, which we're sending back. so i know that we're waiting for the leaders to come.
we've had great cooperation on both sides of the aisle. really, i'm very appreciative of the cooperation i.v i've receivd within the democratic caucus and the cooperation from the other side, which we, too, have done. but if you want to get to the budget, let's yield back time on the continuing funding resolution. madam president, i know that the democratic leadership will be here momentarily. others are waiting for what he has to say, so in the meantime, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
ms. ayotte: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. ms. ayotte: madam president, i ask that the quorum calls be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. ayotte: thank you, madam president. madam president, i rise today to address some comments that were made. i came to the floor earlier to talk about $380 million of funding for me iyad's program, which is a missile to nowhere. i seek to offer an amendment to the continuing resolution and the appropriations bill before the senate right now to strike that funding and to transfer the funding from this missile to nowhere to the operations in maintenance fund so our troops
can use the money for important needs that they have, especially in light of sequestration. and my colleague from illinois, senator durbin, who i certainly great respect for, came to the floor later to counter what i had to say and, in fact, the senator from illinois said that -- essentially, that the u.s. taxpayers have truly invested in this program, and i suggested that if we were to cancel funding for this missile to nowhere that we would be incurring damages or that our allies, who are in this -- who have entered into this miads program with us, particularly the germans and the italians, would be able to seek damages from us and so, therefore, we would incur costs by -- damage costs by terminating it. i wanted to point out that this
is, in my view, first of all, not just my view -- this is wrong based on the plain language of the memorandum of understanding that we have with our allies. in fact, i go back to first-year contracts class in law school, so when you have an agreement with someone, you start with the language of your agreement and the language of the contract, and the language of the contract -- of the memorandum of understanding that we have on the meads program in 2005 says, request germany and italy, says very clearly, "the responsibilities of the participants will be doubt to the availability of funds appropriated for such purposes." so i can tell you a first-year contract student would know that if we do not appropriate funds for the missile to nowhere, then we will not have legal obligations to our allies. in fact, that is what,
essentially, the department of defense has said to us when they wrote to -- a report to congress about this with regard to the 2013 funding. the department of defense has said they would take the position that the ending of the funds for year 12 -- and please understand the history of this. in 2012 in the defense appropriations -- in the authorization, the defense committee said very clearly, this is it. we're not going to fund a program anymore that's not that's not going to get us to result. this is end of our obligation. as a result, the department of defense said, clearly to the senate armed services committee, if congress does not appropriate funding in 2013, the department of defense would take the position that the fy 2012 funds
represents the united states department of defense's final contribution under the mou. the usdod would also take the position that the failure to provide 2013 fund wooing not be a unilateral withdrawal from the mou. so contracts 101 -- clearly, if we cut off the eptio appropriatr the missile to nowhere and makes sure our fund goes to something that our war fighters need and iewrks we will not be subject to a claim by our allies because we expressly protected the taxpayers in the 2005 m.o.u. that was entered. noyes that, i will say that there's another portion of the agreement itself, section 5 of the 2005 m.o.u. states that our maximum commitment from the united states had thob $2.3
billion. yet we have already spent between 2004 and 2011, we have spent $2.9 billion on a missile to nowhere that we are not going to get a result from, and so not only did we -- do we have no responsibility, because we clearly put in that if we did not apromote for this, then we would not have any -- have further responsibilities your honor the m.o.u. but in addition to that, we have already paid $2.9 billion and the m.o.u. says that our responsibility is only $2.3 billion. so i rise to come to the senate today to say, with great respect to my colleague from illinois, his claim that somehow terminating this contract is going to subject the united states to damages is just wrong and is not supported by the plain contract -- the plain language of the agreement.
and we should not continue to fund a missile to nowhere. i will end with this: if you look at the history of this meads program, what has happened? the house armed services committee said in 2013 -- excuse me, 2013 authorization: end funding for this program. zero. the senate armed services committee said end funding for this program. it's a missile to nowhere. zero. the house defense appropriations subcommittee said end funding for this. we're not going to appropriate for this. zero. the only committee that has appropriated for this is the senate subcommittee on defense appropriations. and if we stop that appropriation, we can end the missile to nowhere. that's what my amendment is about. that's what i hope we will have an amendment and a right to be heard on on the continuing resolution. and i want to use -- make sure
that that money goes into the operations and maintenance fund so that it can be used for things that troops really need during a difficult time in addressing sequestration. thank you, madam president. with that, i yield the floor. mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: yesterday the senate invoked cloture on that appropriations bill we've been working on for several weeks now. now what we're doing is burning, wasting 30 hours postcloture. during the postcloture time, each senator has the right to speak for one hour. it's obvious there's 100 of us so all can't speak. so a senator who doesn't want -- like the bill and wants to express their views as to why it's a bad bill, they get one hour. so, madam president, this is really a waste of time. a waste of time. it always is a waste of time. but it is a waste of time now
because we have some important things to do. next in line is the budget resolution. we've heard speeches over here. oh, gee, have we heard speeches. we need the democrats to do a budget. no one mentions -- but that's okay -- no one mentions that we did not have a budget resolution. we had president obama sign the law that took care of our budget problems here. but we want to satisfy the republicans, and we want to get to that budget today. i talked about here this morning what a terrific job chairman murray has done on this bill. and she has. it's been really outstanding. but the budget is here by virtue of a law that was passed. there are 50 hours permitted for debate on the budget and then we can have a lot of amendments after all debate time is over. so the republicans said let's do the budget debate, and we say
let us do it. why should we sit around here and look at each other and do nothing? my friend, the chairman of the -- i'm sorry, the ranking member of the budget committee, the junior senator from alabama, said let's do it after easter. madam president, we're going to do this. we are going to do this before we go home for easter. if they want to use the whole 60 hours, we'll start the debate on the budget sometime thursday morning. and we'll have 50 hours and a lot of votes. if that's what they want to do, we can do that. but why put the senate through that? why put the senate through wasting 60 hours? so, madam president, i want to make clear to all senators that we're going to continue working on this, the c.r. and the budget resolution until we complete them. when we come back, we've got
lots of stuff to do. we've got gun legislation. we've got the we're at -- we'vet the wrta bill, which i'm told is going to be reported out of that committee, energy and environment and public works on a bipartisan basis led by senators boxer and vitter. that's a strange, unusual marriage, but i'm happy to hear that. it's an important bill. we have to do immigration. we have to do appropriations bills. so we have a lot to do. the senate will not leave -- for the third time i'm telling everyone here for the easter/passover recess until we complete the budget. if that means delaying the bill, wasting 60 hours, we'll be voting here thursday, friday, saturday, sunday, whenever we have to do it. my hope would be that we could complete this appropriations measure and move on to the budget resolution this afternoon. but the least we should be able to do is begin debate on the budget. the least we should be able to
do. the debate is -- we've been through these lots of times, some of us, on the budget. during the first 50 hours not much is going to happen unless there's agreement that the time for voting will be counted against 50 hours. if there is no agreement there, there will be no amendments. what i would like to do is have amendments offered during the 50 hours and have that, whatever the time is for voting, which is usually 10 or 15, sometimes 20 minutes, that would be counted against the 50 hours. if we don't do that, what we'll have is just 50 hours of patty murray and jeff sessions talking to each other and whoever wants to join in the conversation. so, i hope we can begin debate on this. i have a couple of unanimous consent requests. i've alerted the republicans that i would be doing this. the first is, madam president, i
ask unanimous consent that not withstanding cloture having been invoked on the mikulski shelby substitute the following amendments be in order: mikulski amendment 98 as modified with changes at the desk and pryor-blunt 82. this it deals with food inspectors, meat inspectors. the portman amendment, these two senators these feel senators feel strongly about. that no other first-degree amendments to the substitute be in order and no second-degree amendments be in order to any of the amendments listed above prior to the vote. and that there be 30 minutes equally divided between the two leaders or their designees prior to votes in relation to the amendments in the order listed. that upon disposition of the pryor-blunt amendment, the durbin second-degree amendment to the toomey amendment be withdrawn. that is amendment 115. that the senate proceed to vote in relation to the toomey amendment number 115 and all amendments with the exception of the substitute be subject to a
60-affirmative vote threshold. that upon disposition of the toomey amendment the senate proceed to vote on the mikulski-shelby substitute as amended. if the substitute amendment as amended is agree to the cloture motion be withdrawn and the senate proceed to vote on passage of the bill as amended. would the chair withhold. that's my request, madam president. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: reserve the right to object. the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: madam president, thank you. let me ask the majority leader, if the two amendments listed in his unanimous consent request number 98 and number 82 are considered, then following that, we would move to final action on the bill -- on the substitute as potentially amendmented? is that accurate?
mr. reid: that is correct. mr. moran: i'm not opposed to the pryor-blunt amendment. i'm a sponsor of that amendment. because that would then waive the 30 hours and move to final action, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. moran: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: i have objected to the unanimous consent request. and in addition to my concern
that while there are amendments that are fine with me if they are made pending and brought before the floor for a vote, i would object because we would move to final action. but i also would object because the amendment that i've offered in regard to control towers is not included in the unanimous consent objection -- unanimous consent request. mr. reid: i'm glad the senator clarified that. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: because it sounded as if he didn't have any objection to these. i was going to say he could still have his 30 hours. i got his objection. madam president, i ask unanimous consent that not withstanding cloture having been invoked at 4:00 today it be in order for the senate to begin consideration of s. con res. number 8, a budget resolution for fiscal year 2014. that any time used for consideration of s. con res. 8 during the postcloture period on h.r. 933 also count toward the postcloture time on h.r. 933.
further, that on tuesday, march 19, at a time to be determined by the majority leader after consultation with the republican leader, the senate resume consideration of h.r. 933. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. moran: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. reid: madam president, this is one of the amazements of the american people. there is nothing -- nothing going to happen during the how many hours that's left in the 30 hours. nothing. what logically would anyone have as an objection to going forward with the budget resolution? we're doing nothing here. we're standing around looking at each other, and not even that because nobody is here on the floor. it is things like that that will cause the senate to have to reassess all these rules because right now they accomplish so
little. i'm disappointed in my friend, whom i have great respect for, the senator from kansas, who i know from the floor. he is a fine person. i like him a lot. i know how strongly he feels about this. but strong affirmative feelings or negative feelings shouldn't stop the progress of what we're trying to do to help the country. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: madam president, members of the senate, i won't be long. of course i might be longer than it appears to be, but at least this week we were supposed to be considering the budget resolution and hopefully before the week's out we will. it's been four years since the senate has passed a budget.
the senate deficit majority has been void of leadership on this matter, while american families and businesses compile a budget each and every year, the senate deficit majority has shirked its responsibility. producing a budget has even been called -- quote, unquote -- foolish by the democrat majority leader. after years of record deficits and debt, i think the american people disagree with the fact that the senate has not taken up a budget for the last three years, even though the law requires every year for the senate to adopt a budget. thankfully, this year it looks like we're going to have this debate and adopt a budget. now while we're about to debate a budget resolution -- a few hours or a few days away -- the president hasn't even proposed his budget for consideration. the budget committee, of which i'm a member, did not hear from
a single administration witness in preparation of this budget that the senate will be working on. that's a new historical low for which the obama administration can take credit. house budget chairman ryan has produced a budget. chairwoman murray produced a budget. it's quite remarkable that the president has yet to submit a budget, even though the law requires it be done by february 4. the president plans to release his budget the week of april 8, two months overdue. this will be the first time a president has failed to submit a budget until after the house and the senate have acted. once again, on fiscal issues, the president is leading from behind. he set a new low for fiscal responsibility.
during the past four years we spent well beyond our means. the gross federal debt has increased by $6 trillion as a result. now, unless we change course, we'll add another $9 trillion over the next ten years. the gross debt is now, and maybe by then will still be larger than the u.s. economy. it's approaching levels where economists agree deficits and debt are causing slower economic growth. during the past four years we witnessed president obama's theory of economic stimulus. we saw a massive expansion of government and deficit spending. president obama and the democrat leadership in congress pushed spending up to 25% of the economy in recent years. and an $800 billion stimulus
bill was a big part of that. that bill was pushed through in the name of economic growth. it was supposed to keep unemployment below 8%. it didn't keep unemployment below 8% because in fact the legislation written was more an appropriations bill than a stimulus bill. so it didn't create the sustainable job growth that it was supposed to. it was one big ineffective spending bill. the economic growth it was supposed to stimulate never materialized. now we're dealing with the deficit and the debt caused by that failed stimulus bill. despite this failure, the president and the senate deficit majority seem even more fixateed on growing government.
according to economic policies of president obama, government needs to grow even bigger to help our economy, and it's not going to work. the overriding belief of the administration is that economic growth will only come through private wealth confiscation that supports even bigger, more intrusive government. if government just gets a little bigger and a little more involved in every facet of our economy and of our lives, that will surely increase the economic prosperity of americans, right? of course not. the problem is raising taxes only extracts private capital from job creators and small businesses, and small businesses happen to be where 70% of the new jobs are created. so if you want to create new jobs, why would you take capital
out of a sector where job creation can occur and bring it to government? where it is spent wastefully by often inefficient and bloated bureaucracies. the higher taxes are robbing the unemployed of needed jobs. the government it supports does not create economic growth or self-sustaining jobs. this four-year spending binge that we have been on has led to deficits that crowd out private investment that would otherwise be used to grow the economy and to create jobs. government doesn't create self-sustaining jobs. government only creates government jobs. the private sector creates jobs where wealth is created in the private sector then. it's a responsibility to the government to create an environment for job growth, to
create opportunity, opportunity for entrepreneurs that then create jobs and instead of raising taxes, what this country needs is more taxpayers, and you get more taxpayers by reducing the unemployment, and you do that by keeping money in the private sector, and besides that, government can provide this environment by instituting the rule of law, protecting property rights, a patent system, among many other things that i could probably mention. government consumes well. it does not create well. through economic freedom, entrepreneurs and individuals are free to innovate and prosper. this budget fails to recognize these simple principles. the budget presented by the deficit majority makes no effort
to reduce deficits, reduce spending, balance the budget or grow the economy. instead, this budget seeks to grow government by taxing more and spending more. it's time that we all recognize that government exists to serve the needs of the people rather than people serving the needs of their government. there are some who believe that government is the only creator of economic prosperity, and if others have achieved success, they must be by default the cause of others' hardships. this type of glass warfare, demagoguery as it is, is harmful to america and our future. it seeks and does divide america. the budget presented by the deficit majority is partisan business as usual. it will tax success by adding another trillion dollars.
it increases government spending, it ignores the subject of our health care entitlements, and this whole approach is simply not good for advancing america's economy. it places no priority on ever bringing our budget into balance the deficit majority speaks at length about growing the economy and creating a middle class and their budget is perfectly backward. it does nothing to address economically harmful deficits and debt, that drag on the economy that they are, and it includes as much as $1.5 trillion in job-killing tax hikes. they claim -- the majority claims that this revenue can be collected without harming the economy by closing loopholes. the fact is that regardless of how it's described, a
$1.5 trillion tax increase will affect the middle class, harm the economy and not create jobs. a $1.5 trillion tax hike, while economic growth is slow and unemployment remains at 7.7%, is a reckless formula further devastating the economy. even worse, the tax increases will not be used to balance the budget. higher taxes support even higher spending. this is the typical tax and spend budget. this budget was crafted as if we don't even have a spending problem or a debt crisis. this budget assumes everything is just fine and everything will work out if we simply proceed forward on the current path of
tax and spend. this budget represents a missed opportunity. you don't have to take my word for it. editorial writers across the country have made similar statements about this budget. a "washington post" editorial called it a complacent budget plan. they wrote that the majority budget fails to recognize the long-term fiscal problems. i'd like to quote -- "partisan in tone and complacent in subject. it scores points against republicans and reassures the political liberal base but deepens these senators' commitments to an unsustainable policy agenda." further quoting -- "in short, this document gives voters no reason to believe that democrats have a viable plan for or even a responsible public assessment of
the country's long-term fiscal predicament." end quote. the "chicago tribune" had a similar thing to say in their editorial. they described it as a deficit of ambition. i quote -- "the democrats unfortunately are feigning fiscal responsibility instead of practicing it. what is needed is a lot more ambition than the murray plan reflects. if democrats don't like the republican plan for balancing the budget, they should produce their own." end of quote. finally, "usa today" editorial referred to the budget as a namby-pamby budget that under whel manies at every turn. quote -- "the murray budget
neither balances the budget your reins in entitlements. its one-to-one ratio of spending to tax increases might sound balanced, but the spending cuts are not actual reductions. they are merely reductions in expected rate of growth. all this makes the murray budget barely a band-aid." end of quote. and that one-to-one ratio that's quoted in the "usa today" reminds me -- and let me explain that it's raised 1 dollar of taxes for one dollar of cuts. that reminds me that the president's own program, own position on that stated just before the election in his meeting with the "des moines register" editorial board suggested that we raise taxes
one dollar and cut expenditures two and a half dollars. how do we go just before the president is elected from two and a half dollars reduction for every dollar increase to a one-to-one ratio now? i would hope that when the president submits his budget on april 8 that he sticks to that two and a half to one. i'm sure that we'll hear the term pro growth applied to this budget when we hear from people speaking on the other side of the aisle. the only thing it can mean is growth in the size and scope of the federal government and growth in the national debt. we will also hear the term "balanced." please don't be fooled. the deficit majority is not speaking of a balanced budget.
their understanding of balance is higher taxes and higher spending. this budget does not tackle runaway spending. it raises taxes but not to balance the budget but to spend more and more. this budget will grow the government, harm economic growth and increase debt. after four years of contemplating a budget resolution, i would have expected more fiscally responsible budgets. the american people deserve much better. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. leahy: i ask consent the call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, what is the parliamentary situation? the presiding officer: the senate is considering h.r. 933. mr. leahy: thank you. the presiding officer: postcloture. mr. leahy: mr. president, i couldn't help but think, watching the debate, it's been almost -- it's been more than two weeks, all-too-familiar stalemate in congress that prevented the passage of commonsense legislation that triggered the across-the-board budget cuts better known as sequestration. these automatic budget cuts when they first went into -- became a possibility, everybody said
no congress will be irresponsible enough to just allow them to go into -- into place. well, in the weeks leading up to sequestration, we were almost -- heard almost daily from federal agencies, defense contractors, members from both sides of the aisle just about how harmful these cuts would be. now -- notwithstanding the talk about how ridiculous it would be to go forward, the deadline for prevention has come and gone. now much of the focus appears to be not upon the wide swath of harm that's beginning to descend on communities across the nation, but instead on the closure of white house tours and whether we're going to have the easter egg roll. come on. mr. president, i would hope the american public, i hope the
press and everybody else would focus on how serious these cuts are. in fact, i think to simply accept and avoid fixing this indiscriminate, harmful cuts is irresponsible. they're slowly being implemented, they've already begun to affect our states and communities. i was up in vermont this weekend for three days, i was all over the state. and everywhere i went just as i do every day, i hear from vermonters about the consequences for their jobs, for their children, for their communities. i've heard from vermont families that begin to plan for the furloughs that are going to hit their family budgets, through no fault of theirs. these are hard-working, honest vermonters, but because congress has failed to act. i've heard from community organizations about the difficult decisions they'll have to make in the weeks ahead, to reductions expect, for example, the number of children
being served by head start. i've heard from young scientists at the university of vermont who have already been denied research grants because of the sequestration. and vermonters facing high rents are facing a seven-year wait for section 8 housing assistance. until the sequestration is resolved, housing authorities in vermont would not be granting any new rental vouchers. and hundreds of vermonters are going to lose this vital life line. put in reality, my home in vermont oversight we -- overnight we had eight or nine inches of show. the next 24 hours we had another eight or nine inches. once it got past 15 inches, we actually had schools that closed. this is very unusual, but think of the people who do not have housing, what that's doing to them.
it's fortunate and needless reality. i've heard about the impact sequestration is having on our military families in vermont. some members of the national guard prepare for furloughs. these are guard members who are called up and willing to serve in iraq and afghanistan, putting their lives on the line for america, but now they prepare for furloughs. and reductions in staff that provide services to their families. and then we have the elimination of the army tuition assistance program serving veterans, a promise we made to our men and women in uniform when they were willing to stand up and go into combat for america. now, these are the impacts felt in the little state of vermont so far. we haven't yet seen the coming consequence for vermont schools and how sequestration will affect students and teachers. we haven't yet felt the true
impact of funding for the grants that support our law enforcement people, our job search assistance, the wheels on meals programs. those programs that provide life saving vaccines. the members have filed amendments on the spending bill we're currently debating to insulate and protect programs that impact their states most, but they want to do it at the cost of other states. we need to stop looking at how we can save just a single program. get back to the table, negotiate a sensible, balanced approach that addresses deficit reduction in a responsible way and on the backs the backs of the most vulnerable americans. we cannot simply cut our way out of this deficit. we created the situation partly by putting two wars on the nation's credit card. this morning, it was estimated that the war in iraq is going to
cost $2 trillion. it's the first war in our nation's history where we went to war and said we don't have to pay for it, we'll just borrow the money. vietnam, korea, very unpopular wars, we still passed the taxes to pay for it. iraq, it's going to be over in a matter of weeks, we don't have to pay for it. ten years later, thousands of americans killed and wounded, to say nothing about our allies and tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of iraqis, and we're stuck with a $2 trillion bill and growing, all on borrowed money. the only people that paid a price in that war for america were the brave memorial who served -- men and women who served there and their families. we don't have a draft.
most families didn't get touched by it. certainly a lot of people made a lot of money on that war. they didn't pay a price. and the people, including people who were in the administration at the time who lied to the congress about what was there, weapons of mass destruction, connection with 9/11,this things they knew were untrue, they simply lied about it and we ended up having that war. there's $2 trillion. don't tell me now the same people who voted for that war don't stand here and tell me how we got to take the money out of medical research in america to pay for it. take the money out of educating our children to pay for it, how we have to take the money out of seniors who need help to pay for it, how we have to take the money out of repairing our bridges and roads in america to pay for it. my answer to them is you voted
for that, you should have been willing to pay for it. we've already reduced the debt by $2.5 trillion. the vast majority of those savings come from spending cuts. the american people want and expect us to take a balanced approach. they know it isn't wise to protect endless corporate loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthiest americans instead of investing in our schools and our factories, our roads, our workers. we -- i think of the billions of dollars we spend on roads and bridges, for example, in iraq and afghanistan. there's one vermonter said yes, spent billions to build roads and bridges in iraq and afghanistan, then they blew them up. build them here in the united states, in vermont or west virginia or oklahoma. we americans, we'll take good care of them.
it's a simple bottom line -- putting our fiscal house in order, which we should do, has to go hand in hand with targeted, commonsense steps to promote economic growth, create jobs, to strengthen the middle class, all things that president obama, democrats in both houses of congress, are eager to do. but we need some cooperation from the other side of the ais aisle. we need cooperation. putting on mindless autopilot the crucial decisions about what should be our budget and growth priorities, that's a terrible and dishonest way to treat the american people. it's a recipe for economic dysfunction. it threatens tangible harm to millions of families, for communities across the nation. difficult decisions in front of us. every single member of the
senate should go back and read their campaign promise that say, oh, of course i'll face up to difficult questions. really? we're stalled here. people want to filibuster rather than face difficult questions. but we have to face them. we can't punt them. we in congress need to put aside talking points, turn to the task of replacing these harmful autopilot cuts with sensible and balanced budget decisions. instead of slogans, let's have some substance. the american people expect more from congress. they certainly deserve a lot more from congress. mr. president, i'd ask my full statement be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with and that i be able to speak for up to 15 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president, i come to the floor today to talk about the important budget debate that we'll have this week here in the united states senate. and we hope to get on that soon. we're disposing of some of last year's budget work before that, but i think this is really kind of an important moment for the united states senate because it's been four years since we did this. 2009 was the last time that the united states senate acted on a budget, and during the time in which -- the time that's
elapsed, we have added $6 trillion to our national debt, so i would like to think that as we get into this budget debate, with we could do something about that. unfortunately, the budget that is going to be put before us by the senate democrats doesn't do anything to address the debt. i think the reason perhaps that we are finally doing a budget here is because there was a no budget, no pay act passed earlier this year which required that a budget be passed. it was moved by the house of representatives at least and it drew attention to the fact that the senate hadn't for four years done a budget and suggested that perhaps before the senate should actually get paid, it actually ought to do its work, it actually ought to pass a budget. and so we are here now for the first time in four years. unfortunately, the budget that's been proposed by the chair of the senate budget committee fails to balance the budget and instead means more taxes, more spending and more debt. that's a formula that we have heard before, actually.
in fact, if you look at the last several years, we add, as i said earlier, $6 trillion to the debt since president obama took office. we have seen tax increases already to the tune of about $1.7 trillion if you combine the tax increases associated last -- or january 1 with the fiscal cliff and then couple that with the tax increases that were included in the president's health care bill, $1.7 trillion in new taxes, $6 trillion in new debt, a runup in spending unlike anything we've seen in recent history. so you would think that given that, given the fact that we've seen debt, spending and taxes go up over the past several years, that we would actually get a budget that is finally focused not on growing the government but on growing the economy, but the senate democrat budget does exactly that. it grows the government, not the economy. their proposal contains more of the same big spending and big
government policies that have led to a dismal average economic growth rate of just .8% over the past four years. that's been the economic growth, mr. president, on average for the past four years, the first four years of president obama's, his first term. .8%, less than 1% is what the economy has grown over that time period. now, a better approach when it comes to putting forward a budget would be to advance a budget that actually is focused on growing the economy, not the government. over the next few days, we're going to have an opportunity to debate and approve this budget proposal on the senate floor. i look forward to that debate. as it stands today, the senate democrat budget increases spending by 62% over the next decade. it raises taxes by $1.5 trillion. and that's in addition, as i said earlier, to the $1.7 trillion in tax increases that we have already seen
enacted under president obama. even with the enormous tax increase, the senate democrat budget would result in $7.3 trillion in new debt over the next decade. so you have got a 62% increase in spending, you have $1.5 trillion in new taxes, and a $7.3 trillion debt in addition to the debt that we hand down to our children and grandchildren. the amazing thing about that, mr. president, even with this enormous tax increase, the budget would never balance, which begs the question what is balanced about a budget that never balances? you know, when i was here, the democrats come here on the floor of the united states senate and talk about we need a balanced approach. we hear the president of the united states get up all the time and talk about we need a balanced approach. well, what's balanced about a budget that never balances? i think the american people -- that's a fundamental question i would expect them to ask. in contrast to the senate democrat budget, the house
republicans have enacted a budget or will be enacting a budget this week, getting it through -- it's not going to be enacted. it's going to get through the house of representatives, hopefully eventually something like it will get enacted, but it balances in ten years. i think ten years is a responsible, reasonable timeline to achieve a balanced budget, and i think most americans who balance their budgets month in and month out would agree with that proposition. the budget put forward by senate democrats also fails to target waste, fraud and inefficiencies across the federal government. for each of the past two years, the government accountability office has outlined hundreds of billions of dollars of wasteful and duplicative spending throughout the federal government. the federal government is a $3.6 trillion enterprise, and there is plenty of ways to target and reform. low-hanging fruit, i think most of us would agree, is a complete waste of taxpayer dollars, but senate democrats have failed to even make an attempt at reining in this waste with their budget
plan. mr. president, budgets are a reflection of values. as vice president biden once said, and i quote -- "show me your budget and i will tell you what you value." end quote. it seems from the senate democrats' budget that they value the same big spending, big government policies of the past four years that have prolonged this period of slow economic growth and high unemployment. in contrast, the budget proposed by the republicans in the house would balance the budget in ten years, again, something i believe we ought to be able to do. and it grows the economy. it starts by cutting wasteful spending, which is not an extreme proposition and something that we ought to be able to do. the house republican budget also reforms our broken tax code to promote economic growth which will mean more jobs, better pay and more opportunities for hard-working americans and middle-class families. the house budget also recognizes that if washington fails to take action, medicare and social security are headed toward
bankruptcy in the not-too-distant future. i commend my colleagues in the house for the vote that they will have this week and for recognizing that reality that our seniors across this country and those who are nearing retirement age and those of younger generations of americans are not going to do -- not going to be protected when it comes to the programs that someday they will rely upon if we don't make the changes and the reforms that are necessary to align those programs with the present and future demographics of this country. and so the house budget strengthens those priorities. the budget debate for fiscal year 2014 that we're going to have on the senate floor this week presents an opportunity, an opportunity to solve our fiscal challenges to move past the job-destroying policies of the past few years and to grow the economy. as i said earlier, average economic growth under this president has been .8%, .8% of
the overall share of the economy. that's a reflection of the negative impacts, the high levels of spending and high annual deficits it had during president obama's tenure. unfortunately, the proposal that will be before the senate this week only continues, doubles down, if you will, on those policies. in fact, there is evidence that this is the opposite of what we should be doing. harvard professors alberto alcina and sylvia ardagna -- excuse me if i pronounce those names wrong -- have studied economies around the world and various fiscal adjustments that have taken place in some of these countries. they found that targeted spending cuts have led to economic expansions, while tax increases have been recessionary. according to these harvard economists, and i quote -- "spending cuts have a positive effect on private investment
while it increases to taxes her investment in the labor market and firm profitability." end quote. mr. president, the evidence is there, growing the government will not solve our economic challenges. if that were true, we would have a much stronger economy today because with the massive health care plan that passed a few years ago with the stimulus program, trillion dollar stimulus program that was put into place early on during the president's first term and all the additional runup in discretionary spending that we've seen, we still have slow growth, high unemployment, massive amounts of debt and many americans who are struggling with their own personal economies, lower take-home pay. the focus should be on growing our economy, and that starts with passing a budget that cuts spending and reforms the tax code in a way that promotes economic growth. again, i believe that there is a
better approach out there, mr. president. the house of representatives has put forth one. it's really unfortunate that the senate democrat budget fails to address the long-term spending and economic problems facing this country and instead focuses once again on growing government. in fact, "the washington post" editorial board had this to say of the democrats' budget proposal, and i quote -- "in short, this document gives voters no reason to believe that democrats have a viable plan or even a responsible public assessment of the country's long-term fiscal predicament." end quote. mr. president, failure to act and solve our fiscal challenges could result in another damaging credit downgrade thanks to the out-of-control spending and such a downgrade would have a very negative effect on the american people. credit downgrade would drive up interest rates across the board
on everything from student loans to home mortgages. that means it would be more expensive to buy a home or a car, to send a child to college or to pay down personal debt. and so as we get ready to debate the majority's proposed budget for fiscal year 2014 on the floor this week, i hope that the senate will take an honest look at the relationship between spending and economic growth. we need to put the federal government on a stable fiscal path in order to create the kind of economic certainty and the economic conditions that we need to grow our economy and to create jobs. mr. president, the majority's budget goes in the opposite direction. it grows government instead of growing the economy. we need to be talking about a budget here in the united states senate whose primary focus is to grow the economy, not to grow the government. so this will -- this will give
us a chance over the course of the next few days to present two very different visions for the future of this country, one that's based upon higher spending, higher taxes, more debt and one that's focused on putting in place responsible spending plan that protects and saves important programs like social security and medicare, that reforms our tax code in a way that encourages and promotes economic growth and that puts policies in place, mr. president, that will actually get this economy growing and expanding again, get more americans back to work and increase the standard of living and the quality of life for future generations of americans. we can't do that. if we continue to borrow and spend like there's no tomorrow, and that is precisely what the democrat budget would do. mr. president, i yield the floor.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. mr. begich: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes. mr. begich: i'd ask to vacate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. begich: mr. president, i was not planning to come down here. i was in several meetings and, you know, as we all have in our office, we have the screen of the floor for -- to figure out
what action might be occurring or what might not be occurring, so i kept looking and the floor was empty, the floor was empty, the floor was empty and i know earlier this afternoon, the majority leader asked that we get simultaneously on to the budget so we're just not an empty zone here. and i know people who are sitting up there behind me are probably wondering what's happening here. well, what's happening here is, the way these procedures work, which are ridiculous, you just sit around and burn up time, let the clock just tick, tick, tick with no action. because for some reason, some people think this is strategic. it's not. this is what people are fed up with in this country, this game that goes on down here. so the leader came down and said, let's get on with the budget because i -- i come down here it seems every day or so and i see these charts up there how many the days the budget hasn't passed or we haven't done a budget. so here we come and offer to get on to the budget and the other side objects.
so, mr. president, it is probably the most frustrating thing for me to see. and for my constituents to see when i'm in a conference room and they say, "what's happening oon the floor" and i have so say nothing because we can -- they're not allowing us to get to the budget. what they complain about for the last 2 1/2, three years, we never get to a budget, well, here we have a chance. and the budget will have lots of amendments, a lot of debate and, you know, some have said, well, let's wait until after easter. i'm not waiting until after easter. i'm happy to go through the weekend. i know it's tough for people because they want to get back for the weekends and fund raise and all that other fun stuff they do. but you know what? they wanted us to get to the budget, we're ready to get to the budget. let's get to the budget and have this debate. but here we are, camera's on me, one person, but the room is empty. it's amazing. and the people behind me who are quietly sitting up there observing, because they're not allowed to say anything, are
wondering what is going on, as many of my constituents. as a former member of the budget committee, i can tell you, budgets are not easy. this budget, it doesn't matter where you may be on it, starts to cut the budget, starts reducing the deficit down, starts dealing with it. i'm happy to debate it. i'm not sure where i'm going to be at the enof the day on this budget, but -- end of the day on this budget, but i'm happy to debate it any time. today would be good. but instead what people want to do, through a parliamentary procedure, is just burn off hours. so people sit around waiting for the clock to end. so then we can come down and debate. you know, mr. president, i know you're new, like i'm kind of new but not as new as you, are and it's probably what you hear back home, as i do still today, the frustration level of how this place operates. and here we are. and we had a chance earlier this morning, earlier this afternoon to move forward on the budget and they objected because they
didn't want the two times between the c.r. and the budget -- i know this sounds a little processing, a little wonky -- to simultaneously go at the same time. but the fact is, we could have done that, because obviously they care so much about the budget, they're not down here. you know? but maybe if we'd get to the budget they'd come down and talk about their objections, as i have. you know, i've said publicly that i'm going to look at the budget that's come forward, i want to make sure there's enough cuts in there, make sure they're real cuts that last a long time because we've got to get this budget under control, this deficit under control. and we want to make sure that we continue to move this economy forward with the right kind of sustainable budget over the long haul. i'm happy to debate it. i'm looking forward to it. but i just decided, my poor staff didn't realize i was coming down here, and i said i'm come down anyway, when i walked out of the hall coming down here because i got frustrated that we could be doing this. and here's what's going to happen, i can see it already. come thursday, we'll be in a mad dash around here, running arou
around, working double time, which is fine, rushing amendments. instead when we could have had a deliberative process right now, right now on the budget. and that's what we should be doing down here. that's what the american people want. that's what alaskans tell me every day. debate it. and debate the issues. and so i'm anxious, and maybe we'll ask again to get consent by the other side to get on with the budget. but they've already objected to that, which i'm just shocked. and i think the american people would be shocked. but no one's down here. so it's hard to be shocked when there's no debate. but i just wanted to come down here in a little bit of a frustration, make my point heard that we have a chance, we could have had a chance earlier today to start this budget debate, we did not. now we're just waiting for the clock to tick. and it's really somewhat embarrassing, as someone said in the senate, that i came here to get stuff done, not to sit
around and wait for a clock to run out because people just want to use the process to drag on their political desires rather than what we should be doing down here, getting on with keeping this economy moving, making sure that jobs are created, doing everything we can to get this budget under control and making sure that long-term sustainability of this government continues. so, mr. president, i thank you for your indulgence, thank you for allowing me just a couple minutes down here to maybe rant and complain about a process that i thought was going to start at 2:30 and yet nothing. and my guess is they will not consent, they will burn the time. the american people will get frustrated and then we'll finally get into the debate, it will be rushed instead of having a long, good, positive, deliberate deliberation here. so, mr. president, i yield back the floor and note an absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: madam president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: madam president, you know, republicans have spent the last two years attacking us democrats for -- quote -- "not bringing up a budget resolution here in the senate," despite the
fact, i would add, that we had a budget control act that took the place of the budget and the fact that actually those attacks aren't very persuasive to the american people. but nonetheless, republicans invested a lot of time and energy and money pushing for a budget, for a very, very long time. they couldn't agree amongst themselves on a long of things but they at least agree the senate should pass a budget. well, madam president, the senate budget committee has now passed a progrowth budget resolution out of committee strongly supported by every democrat and every independent on the committee from the moderates to the progressives. it took a balanced approach that put jobs and the economy first. it tackles our deficit and our debt responsibly and it keeps the promises that we've all made to our senators and our families and our communities. madam president, democrats know we're on the right track of this issue when it comes to policy. we know we are on the right side when it comes to whaut american people want. we know our budget resolution reflects the values and
priorities of the vast majority of the american people. and we are looking forward to a debate. we are confident that when we lay out our balanced and responsible approach and the house lays out their extreme approach that actually doubles down on the failed and rejected policies of the past, the contrast is going to be clear, and the american people will continue standing with us as we work towards a balanced and bipartisan deal. so, why am i here? i am here because i am so disappointed that we cannot start this debate and move to the process. offer amendments, get this going. madam president, this is an issue the american people want to hear about. they deserve to hear about. and it's one that senators should be able to come to the floor, debate, offer amendments on. and based on what i've heard from republicans over the last two years, i thought they wanted this debate too. so i'm kind of surprised that we're here running the clock on